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Barclays and HSBC among biggest backers of fossil fuels projects, report finds

Barclays and HSBC were the worst-placed of the FTSE 100 lenders, having both provided over US$50bn of funding over five years

Bank of America -

The world’s 60 largest commercial and investment banks poured a total US$3.8 trillion into fossil fuels between 2016 and 2020, according to a report by a group of non-governmental organizations.

JP Morgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) financed the most deals by value, investing US$316.7bn over the five years, with North American banks – Citigroup (NYSE:C), Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC), Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) and RBC (TSE:RY) - making up the top five.

North American and European banks dominated the list mainly due to financing for the oil and gas sector, the report showed.

Barclays (LON:BARC) was the highest placed UK lender, in ninth place overall with US$57.8bn of funding over five years. HSBC (LON:HSBA) was in 11th with US$51bn.

Standard Chartered was in 34th place with US$8.5bn of funding, while Natwest Group (LON:NWG) and Lloyds Banking Group (LON:LLOY) were in 48th and 49th with US$4.1bn and US$3.4bn. 

While fossil fuel financing dropped 9% last year, as fossil fuel demand and production shrank due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 levels remained higher than in 2016, the year after the adoption of the Paris climate agreement, and in 2017.

“The overall fossil fuel financing trend of the last five years is still heading definitively in the wrong direction, reinforcing the need for banks to establish policies that lock in the fossil fuel financing declines of 2020, lest they snap back to business-as-usual in 2021,” the report said.

The report, “Banking on Climate Crisis” also assesses the current wave of bank commitments to reduce their financed emissions to net zero by 2050.

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