30 banks ‘lobbying against climate regulation’

30 of the world’s largest financial institutions have ‘lobbied to weaken key sustainable finance policies’, according to research from think tank InfluenceMap.

The study looked to compare the financial sector's stated climate policies and commitments to its climate-relevant financing and policy lobbying activities.

InfluenceMap said that despite 29 of the 30 assessed financial groups having set 2050 climate goals in line with the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ) initiative, all 30 remain members of financial industry associations which are opposing emerging sustainable finance policy, including finance sector disclosure requirements in the EU and requirements to consider ESG as part of investment duties in the US.

Furthermore, the report claims 15 of the 30 are members of real-economy industry associations which have lobbied directly in line with fossil fuel interests, including the US Chamber of Commerce and the American Gas Association.

A small number of financial institutions, including BNP Paribas, AXA, and Allianz, are bucking industry trends and engaging on sustainable finance policy with mostly ambitious positions according to the report.

The 30 assessed financial institutions cumulatively enabled at least $740 billion in primary financing to the fossil fuel production value chain in 2020 and 2021, equivalent to seven per cent of their total primary financing in this period.

The think tank said this financing stands in direct contrast to science-based guidelines from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the International Energy Agency (IEA), which highlight the need for the rapid scale-down of coal, oil, and gas exploration and production and halve global emissions by 2030.

The largest enabler of fossil fuel financing according to the report was JP Morgan with $81 billion in 2020-2021.

InfluenceMap said it remains likely that the financial sector will continue to enable real-economy activities misaligned with 1.5 °C climate scenarios if they remain legally and economically viable in the short term.

“Any bank making a Net Zero promise whilst actively lobbying against necessary climate regulation - such as mandatory disclosure of borrowers’ emissions and climate action plans - is greenwashing”, said Chris Hohn, founder at TCI. “Shareholders should vote against the directors of banks who are hiding their exposure to climate risk.”

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