33 banks have funneled 1.9 trillion into fossil fuels since 2016. Of these banks, Goldman Sachs ranks number 12 in the biggest financiers of fossil fuels, pouring approximately $59.26 billion dollars over the last three years. Yet in December of 2019, the US firm announced its decision to end the financing of new oil drilling and exploration projects in the Arctic, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Goldman Sachs’ decision includes a ban on funding new thermal coal mines worldwide.
The megabank acknowledged the scientific consensus behind climate change and stated that “climate change is one of the most significant environmental challenges of the 21st century” in its revised environmental policy framework. It also stated to more effectively help its clients manage climate impacts, including through the sale of weather-related catastrophe bonds. The revisions were reportedly a result of meetings between leaders of the Gwich’in Steering Committee, the Sierra Club, and representatives from Goldman Sachs.
Goldman Sachs is the first US megabank to end financing of Arctic oil and gas projects, as well as cite the climate crisis as a reason for its decision. This is a good sign for environmentalists and Arctic indigenous groups, who hope other banks will follow suit. However, the Goldman Sachs announcement doesn’t completely sever ties with the fossil fuel industry since it has not mentioned any commitments to end the financing of fracking projects.
There is a financial incentive to sever investments to the fossil fuel industry. Over the last decade, BlackRock has lost an estimated $90 billion by ignoring the risks of investing in fossil fuel companies instead of renewable energy. With solar photovoltaic installers and wind turbine service technicians as the two fastest-growing occupations in the US as of 2018, clean energy alternatives have increased accessibility and competitiveness.
While Goldman Sachs is the first US megabank to draw a red line over oil and gas projects, other major financial institutions are still pouring billions of dollars into the climate crisis. JPMorgan Chase is the single largest funder of fossil fuels in the world—it has financed a total of $195 billion over the last three years. As a green business leader, your voice matters in pressuring JPMorgan Chase to stop funding fossil fuels and invest in clean energy. Take action with us today.