Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

If you’ve been waiting for the right time to support our work—that time is now.

Our mission is simple: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.

But without the support of our readers, this model does not work and we simply won’t survive. It’s that simple.
We must meet our Mid-Year Campaign goal but we need you now.

Please, support independent journalism today.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

A new report by green groups including Oil Change International and Sierra Club show that major banks poured $115 billion into dirty energy last year—up 11 percent from 2016. (Image: "Banking on Climate Change")

Going Backward in Trump Era, Big Bank Investment in World's Dirtiest Energy Projects Surged in 2017

"Every single dollar that these banks provide for the expansion of the fossil fuel industry is a dollar going to increase the climate crisis."

Julia Conley

Going backward in the era of Trump—and despite international efforts to curb the climate crisis by reducing carbon emissions and reliance on fossil fuels—a new study out Wednesday details how major banks invested heavily in the world's dirtiest energy sectors in 2017, pouring $115 billion into tar sands, offshore oil drilling, and coal mining projects.

"Every single dollar that these banks provide for the expansion of the fossil fuel industry is a dollar going to increase the climate crisis," said Stephen Kretzmann of Oil Change International, one of the groups behind the study (pdf).

The findings of the report—entitled "Banking on Climate Change"—were described by author and activist Naomi Klein as "terrifying."

Until they end their funding of dirty energy, Kretzmann added, "these banks will be complicit in our climate catastrophe, plain and simple."

Institutions including JP Morgan Chase, TD Bank, and Bank of America increased their funding of dirty energy by 11 percent from 2016 to 2017, flouting the Paris Climate Agreement.

The tar sands sector, known as the dirtiest source of energy on the planet, received major support from banks last year, with financing going up by 111 percent to $98 billion. JP Morgan Chase quadrupled its funding of the industry, a year after researchers found tar sands operations were a major cause of pollution.

Environmental campaigners also denounced banks for their support of industries that have caused destruction to communities by building pipelines with no regard for citizens' homes and human rights. Dirty energy projects funded by financial institutions in 2017 included the Line 3 Tar Sands pipeline proposed by Enbridge, which TD Bank, Citibank, Royal Bank of Canada, and MUFBGall invest in; and new coal plants expected to be build across Southeast Asia, bankrolled by Mizuho, MUFG, and SMFG.

"These banks fund the projects that are killing the planet, destroying indigenous sacred sites, and violating the human rights of citizens." —Tara Houska, Honor the Earth

"These banks fund the projects that are killing the planet, destroying indigenous sacred sites, and violating the human rights of citizens," said Tara Houska of Honor the Earth. "The financial industry is on notice—the human rights policies banks claim are in place must be enforced. Stop funding fossil fuels and move into a green economy."

While major banks have continued funneling money into planet-killing energy projects, the report noted, the World Bank announced last year it would cease funding of oil and gas extraction after 2019. Last fall, the Norwegian government announced it would divest its sovereign wealth fund—the largest in the world—of all its oil and gas shares.

"It is not surprising that we see the world's largest sovereign wealth fund managers no longer prepared to take the increasing risk associated with oil and gas assets, which do not have a long-term future," said Paul Fisher of the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, when Norway made its announcement.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

"I'm sure this will be all over the corporate media, right?"
That’s what one longtime Common Dreams reader said yesterday after the newsroom reported on new research showing how corporate price gouging surged to a nearly 70-year high in 2021. While major broadcasters, newspapers, and other outlets continue to carry water for their corporate advertisers when they report on issues like inflation, economic inequality, and the climate emergency, our independence empowers us to provide you stories and perspectives that powerful interests don’t want you to have. But this independence is only possible because of support from readers like you. You make the difference. If our support dries up, so will we. Our crucial Mid-Year Campaign is now underway and we are in emergency mode to make sure we raise the necessary funds so that every day we can bring you the stories that corporate, for-profit outlets ignore and neglect. Please, if you can, support Common Dreams today.

 

'We Need Action': Biden, Democrats Urged to Protect Abortion Access in Post-Roe US

"The Supreme Court doesn't get the final say on abortion," Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Tina Smith wrote in a new op-ed.

Kenny Stancil ·


Motorist 'Tried to Murder' Abortion Rights Advocates at Iowa Protest, Witnesses Say

Although one witness said the driver went "out of his way" to hit pro-choice protestors in the street, Cedar Rapids police declined to make an arrest.

Kenny Stancil ·


'A Hate Crime': Oslo Pride Parade Canceled After Deadly Shooting at Gay Bar

A 42-year-old gunman has been charged with terrorism following what Norway's prime minister called a "terrible and deeply shocking attack on innocent people."

Kenny Stancil ·


'We WILL Fight Back': Outrage, Resolve as Protests Erupt Against SCOTUS Abortion Ruling

Demonstrators took to the streets Friday to defiantly denounce the Supreme Court's right-wing supermajority after it rescinded a constitutional right for the first time in U.S. history.

Brett Wilkins ·


80+ US Prosecutors Vow Not to Be Part of Criminalizing Abortion Care

"Criminalizing and prosecuting individuals who seek or provide abortion care makes a mockery of justice," says a joint statement signed by 84 elected attorneys. "Prosecutors should not be part of that."

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo