US Big Banks – Leading the Financing of Fossil Fuels

Submitted by fteplitz on January 4, 2022

In an effort to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline several years ago, individuals and institutions pulled their money out of the mega-banks that were funding this destructive pipeline, threatening American Indian lands and the drinking water of millions of people, while accelerating climate change emissions.

This movement highlighted the role of banks in financing fossil fuel projects and the climate emergency.

By financing extreme fossil fuel infrastructure, these banks are responsible for the corresponding violation of human rights that the fossil fuel industries cause as they destroy the environment and repress those who oppose them, especially Indigenous communities. 

Fossil fuel financing from the world’s 60 largest banks has reached USD $4.6 trillion in the six years since the adoption of the Paris Agreement, with $742 billion in fossil fuel financing in 2021 alone.

- 2022 Banking on Climate Chaos Report

Of this financing, the banks most responsible for funding the finance crisis are four US banks – JPMorgan Chase, Citi, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America.

They also continue to bankroll the expansion of the fossil fuel industry – allowing it to grow at the very time we need a concerted focus on and just transition to renewable energy.

Role of Green America 

Green America launched our Break Up with Your Mega-Bank campaign in the years leading up to 2008 financial crisis. We focused primarily on the abusive, fraudulent, and deceptive practices of the big banks that have wreaked financial havoc on millions of individuals, families, and communities – especially those with the least wealth. At the same time, we called on the megabanks to end their financing of fossil fuels.

Over time, the big banks have agreed to increase their clean energy investments and more recently, many have made public announcements about getting their portfolios to “net zero” emissions by 2050.

To date, however, the positive steps by the big banks are still greatly outweighed by their continuing support for dirty energy. 

Fortunately, more and more organizations are adopting “move your money” campaigns, urging the public to stop banking with the big banks, especially Bank of America, Citi, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo.

Green Americans are increasingly moving their accounts to community development banks and credit unions, financial institutions certified by our Green Business Network, Minority Depository Institutions, and members of Inclusiv and the Global Alliance for Banking on Values, all of which you can find here.  

Are you still banking with a conventional Big Bank?

For the sake of people and the planet, now is the time to switch. Visit  Get a Better Bank to find banks and credit unions that can work for your financial life – and for people and the planet. 

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