With the ink hardly dry on a landmark pledge by the finance industry to fight climate change, the world’s biggest banks are making clear they plan to stand by their fossil-fuel clients.
Take JPMorgan Chase & Co., the leading arranger of bonds for oil, gas and coal companies. In the weeks since the bank in October joined Mark Carney’s global alliance to achieve net-zero emissions from finance, it has underwritten some $2.5 billion in bond deals for companies like Gazprom PJSC and Continental Resources Inc., equivalent to the same period in previous years.
Wells Fargo, which Bloomberg data show as lending the most of any bank to fossil-fuel companies, is on track to double the amount of credit it has granted to the sector this year.
In total, global banks led by the Wall Street titans have helped fossil-fuel companies issue almost $250 billion in bonds so far in 2021, a figure that also broadly matches average annual fundraising for the industry since 2016. And while the International Energy Agency argues that funding for new oil and gas needs to stop now to avoid catastrophic climate change, bankers counter that polluters need help to transition to new sources of energy.
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