Big bank sponsorship of Climate Week 2016, which kicked off Monday in New York City, "amounts to little more than greenwashing," according one environmental organization, given financial institutions' business-as-usual investment in fossil fuels.
Indeed, Rainforest Action Network (RAN) charges three major sponsors—Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, and Bank of the West (BNP Paribas)—with "helping [to] drive the climate crisis" through their ongoing funding of extreme fossil fuels such as coal and tar sands oil.
Citing its own 2016 report, Shorting the Climate, which was released in June, RAN notes that between 2013 and 2015, those three entities put $9.89 billion into coal mining companies, $30.7 billion into the largest coal power producers, $74.91 billion into companies building LNG export terminals in North America, and $77.3 billion into companies exposed to extreme oil. Furthermore, among the 25 major global banks analyzed in Shorting the Climate, JPMorgan Chase was the number one investor in two extreme fossil fuel subsectors: liquified natural gas (LNG) export terminals and extreme oil.
Bank of America is a "Platinum Sponsor" of Climate Week, while JP Morgan Chase and Bank of the West are listed as "Affiliate" and "Supporting" sponsors, respectively.
"Given their current investments in climate-wrecking activities, their sponsorship of 'Climate Week NYC' amounts to little more than greenwashing," said RAN climate and energy program director Amanda Starbuck on Monday. "If these banks aspire to be climate leaders, they must accelerate their exit from coal, and commit to getting out of extreme oil and fracked-gas terminals as well."
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Climate group 350.org separately took Bank of America to task on Monday for "playing a key role in financing dangerous fossil fuel infrastructure like the Dakota Access Pipeline"—even as it announces "new environmental operations goals" such as moving to 100 percent renewable electricity by 2020.
Earlier this month, Food & Water Watch revealed that Bank of America was among the financial institutions that has "committed substantial resources to the Energy Transfer Family of companies" behind the controversial pipeline project.
"While executives tout these steps toward the renewable energy-powered world we need, we know that it's not nearly enough," declared 350.org's U.S. campaigns director Jenny Marienau.
"If they don't prioritize defunding the climate crisis," she said, "they are continuing a pattern of prioritizing profit over people, planet, and ethical business practices. As the second largest bank in the U.S., with nearly $2.2 trillion in assets, the Bank of America has the ability, not to mention a greater responsibility, to actually move money away from the fossil fuel economy to prioritize people and planet."