GFANZ members criticised for continuing to finance fossil fuel expansion
NGO report claims members of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero are continuing to put billions of dollars towards new oil and gas expansion projects.
A report from advocacy group Reclaim Finance has accused members of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ) of hypocrisy for providing a total of $270bn to 102 major fossil fuel expanders since joining the alliance.
GFANZ is a coalition of financial institutions formed following the COP 26 climate conference, with the goal of committing to accelerating the decarbonisation of the global economy. It has over 550 member firms from across the financial sector, including banks, insurers, asset owners, asset managers, financial service providers and investment consultants.
The NGO report singled out Citigroup, a member of the GFANZ steering group, for approving 136 transactions that directly provided $30bn in capital to fossil fuel developers, including Saudi Aramco, QatarEnergy, and Gazprom since April 2021. Royal Bank of Canada has also provided almost $10bn in capital to oil and gas developers since joining GFANZ in November 2021.
In response to the report, a spokesperson for Citigroup said: “Citi’s commitment to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 is backed by ambitious 2030 targets for our energy and power financed emissions, and we are working closely with our clients to support their efforts to decarbonise their businesses.”
From GFANZ members to oil and gas developers
In total, the report detailed that 229 of the world’s largest fossil fuel developers received finance from 161 GFANZ members. According to Reclaim Finance, this will support them to develop new coal power plants, mines, ports and other infrastructure, as well as new oil and gas fields and pipelines and liquefied natural gas terminals.
In the foreword to the report, Amanda Starbuck, a member of the High-level Expert Group on the Net Zero Emissions Commitments of Non-State Entities, said that the “big GFANZ players” had yet to take on board the message on the “incompatibility of net zero and fossil fuel expansion”.
“The guidelines of GFANZ’s sectoral alliances, and the policies of the alliances’ financial institution members, must urgently be upgraded to push funding away from fossil fuel infrastructure and toward clean energy,” she wrote.
According to Reclaim Finance, BlackRock is the largest GFANZ investor in fossil fuel expansion, with stock and bond holdings of $23bn in coal developers and $170bn in oil and gas developers.
Adele Shraiman, a campaign representative from environmental organisation Sierra Club, said: “Despite their high-profile commitments to net zero, US banks like Citibank and investors like BlackRock are continuing to support the development of oil, gas, and even coal through their investments and loans. The US financial sector cannot be taken seriously on climate change until it stops investing in new fossil fuel projects.”
Financial research for the report was carried out by Profundo, which relied primarily on data from Bloomberg and Refinitiv as well as project finance data from IJGlobal.
Eri Watanabe, a senior finance campaigner from climate advocacy group 350.org Japan, said: “Despite their high-profile commitments to net zero, Japanese banks and investors, including Mitsubishi UFJ and Nomura Asset Management, are continuing to support the development of oil, gas and even coal through their investments and loans.
“We need an urgent transition to a green economy for all of us to thrive and the finance sector must help deliver that.”
GFANZ members are spread across 50 jurisdictions. Out of 161 GFANZ members covered in this report and assessed in Reclaim Finance’s Coal Policy Tool, only 61 were found to have a policy that excludes some support for companies developing some types of new coal projects.
Responding to the report, a GFANZ spokesperson said: “Based on research GFANZ commissioned last year, we know that investment in renewables needs to be four times the levels going into fossil fuels by 2030 to restrict climate change consistent with the aims of the Paris Agreement.
“GFANZ members will detail how they are financing the transition of the energy sector when they publish their interim targets and transition plans. This will allow government, investors and civil society organisations to track progress towards an economy-wide four to one ratio.”
The publication of the report was timed to coincide with the ongoing World Economic Forum taking place in Davos, Switzerland.