Only 7% of large banks energy financing going towards renewables, report claims
Data sourced for NGO report calls out GFANZ members for failing to reach the required renewables to fossil energy investment ratio needed to achieve net-zero goals.
Data produced for NGOs including Sierra Club, BankTrack and Rainforest Action Network show that large banks are continuing to provide significantly more finance towards oil and gas projects than renewables.
The analysis – by research company Profundo – examined lending and bond underwriting by 60 banks to 377 energy companies for the period January 2016 to July 2022. Of the $2.5trn total, $2.3trn was related to the production of fossil fuel energy and just $178bn was related to clean energy activities such as wind and solar. This represented only 7.1% of the total.
Citi and JP Morgan Chase each invested $181bn into the energy companies examined in the data between 2016 and 2022, but only 2% of the combined total went to renewables. Similarly, only 2% of Barclays’ financing of the energy companies examined went to renewables, while Royal Bank of Canada stood at 1%, Mizuho 4%, and HSBC 5%.
All these banks are members of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ), which commissioned a report showing that low-carbon energy investments need to account for at least 80% of energy investments compared to fossil fuels (a four-to-one ratio) by 2030 to reach climate goals.
A GFANZ spokesperson pushed back against some of the claims made in the report: “This report does not provide a comprehensive view of clean energy investment. At GFANZ, we are advocating for governments to put in place the public policies that accelerate the conditions needed for private finance to ramp up investment in low-carbon energy in countries that need it most.
“We call on financial institutions not in them to join the alliances that comprise GFANZ to demonstrate commitment and become part of the solution. To limit global warming to 1.5°C, investment in renewables needs to be four times the levels going into fossil fuels. A lot of work needs to be done to get there, which is exactly why GFANZ was created.”
The methodology of the NGO report only identifies which energy providers received investment, as opposed to project-level data which might show that a majority oil and gas firm is actually using such monies to invest in renewables. Within the report, nuclear power and biomass were not included as renewable activities.
GFANZ members failing to hit 4:1 ratio
Maaike Beenes, campaign lead at BankTrack said: “Given that GFANZ co-chair Mark Carney has publicly recognised the need to rapidly increase the ratio of green financing to at least four times that of fossil fuel financing, it is alarming that GFANZ members have in fact financed less green energy than those outside the alliance.
“To stop the climate crisis from further unfolding, banks must stop dragging their feet and start shifting their financing away from fossil fuels towards green energy.”
According to GFANZ, the report excludes 70% of power generation companies, the bulk of which account for most of the world's wind and solar power. Additionally, according to GFANZ, the comparison between GFANZ and non-GFANZ members is focused on comparing global financial institutions with those in China (who are not in GFANZ due to the country so far not being aligned to the Paris Agreement) where renewable buildout in recent years has been extremely strong.
Responding to the financing of new oil and gas projects at a World Economic Forum event, Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser said: “We need to have energy security and we need to be operating on cleaner technologies and the two, as we are seeing right now, cannot be mutually exclusive.”
An earlier report from advocacy group Reclaim Finance accused members of GFANZ of hypocrisy for providing a total of $270bn to 102 major fossil fuel expanders since joining the alliance.