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Protesters with banner reading, "Chase funds climate crimes"

Participants hold a banner outside JPMorgan Chase's headquarters in New York City on April 19, 2022. (Photo: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images)

US Banks Pouring $23 Billion Into Russian 'Carbon Bomb' Projects

"When you don't care who you're doing business with," said one climate campaigner, "it does translate into human suffering and lives lost."

Julia Conley

New research released Wednesday by a Ukraine-based climate action group reveals that while the U.S. is sending another $3 billion in aid to the country amid Russia's invasion, American banks are among the biggest investors in high-emissions projects which are helping to fund the war as well as pushing the planet toward climate breakdown.

Compiled by the Leave It in the Ground Initiative (LINGO), the new database details the various investors and creditors of Russian "carbon bombs"—extraction projects with the potential to emit at least one billion tonnes of carbon.

Based on its findings, LINGO is calling on major banks including JPMorgan Chase and HSBC to end their funding of such projects by oil and gas companies across Russia.

"We should not be investing in new fossil fuel projects, as the International Energy Agency has confirmed," LINGO Director Kjell Kühne told The Guardian. "Anybody involved in these projects should be really questioning what they're doing."

More than 400 worldwide firms have provided $130 billion in investment and credit to projects by oil and gas companies including Gazprom, Novatek, and Rosneft in recent years.

"This is criminal behavior leading directly to death, destruction, and the continued devastation of our climate and our world."

Investments make up $52 billion of the funding, and U.S. companies have provided an estimated $23.6 billion of that—approximately half the total.

JPMorgan Chase has provided the largest combination of credit and investment of any U.S. company, pouring $10 billion into projects extracting fossil fuels in the Arctic, Siberia, and other regions.

Qatar's sovereign wealth fund accounted for the second-largest investment in carbon bomb projects, investing more than $15 billion in Rosneft, which began construction last month on an oil terminal in the Arctic. U.K. companies have invested the third-largest amount recorded by LINGO—a total of $2.5 billion.

Two years after JPMorgan released a pledge to "tackle climate change"—one that was met with skepticism by climate campaigners—the company is still engaging in what climate scientist Bill McGuire called "criminal behavior leading directly to death, destruction, and the continued devastation of our climate and our world."

In addition to contributing to the heating of the planet—drilling in a region that scientists recently discovered is heating up four times faster than the planet as a whole due to fossil fuel emissions—the companies identified by LINGO are helping to fund Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine, which has killed more than 5,500 people and injured more than 7,800 so far. 

"This [war] has made really clear that, when you don't care who you're doing business with," Kühne told The Guardian, "it does translate into human suffering and lives lost."

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