Environmental groups: JPMorgan Chase emissions targets are ‘fig leaf for fossil expansion’

At today’s JPMorgan Chase annual general meeting (AGM), CEO Jamie Dimon faced questions from a number of climate justice activists on Enbridge’s Line 3 tar sands oil pipeline and Indigenous sovereignty, the East Africa Crude Oil pipeline (which many banks have refused to finance), the Adani Carmichael coal mine in Australia (which no insurer will cover), deforestation, and the bank’s oil, gas, and coal policies.

According to the Rainforest Action Network, Dimon either dismissed those questions, punted, or demonstrated an apparent misunderstanding of his bank’s policies.

For example, Dimon claimed JPMorgan’s policies would result in cutting his bank’s fossil fuel financed emissions in half by 2030 (intensity-only targets are fully compatible with increases in absolute emissions) and claiming his bank’s coal policy is strong (it badly lags US and global best practice). 

A coalition of more than 150 groups called Stop The Money Pipeline (STMP) has today published an analysis of JP Morgan Chase’s newly released set of 2030 “carbon intensity” targets for its oil and gas power and auto portfolios, labeling it “a fig leaf for fossil expansion.”

JPMorgan Chase has bankrolled $317 billion into fossil fuels since the Paris Climate Agreement was adopted, making it uniquely responsible among its peer institutions for the continued expansion of the fossil fuel industry. Climate advocates acknowledge that explicit interim targets for fossil fuel sectors are necessary, but insist that intensity targets alone are wholly insufficient because they are fully compatible with expansion of fossil fuels and increases in absolute emissions. Today the International Energy Agency (IEA) made public their roadmap for the world to achieve net zero greenhouse gases by 2050. The new IEA scenario finds “no need for investment in new fossil fuel supply.”

Since the Paris Climate Agreement was adopted, JPMorgan Chase has financed 57 of the 75 companies doing the most to expand upstream and midstream oil and gas. It has also financed 18 of the 25 US utilities that are planning the most new fossil gas capacity, and with the most coal-fired power without a 2030 retirement commitment. It has also financed 10 of the top 30 global coal power companies, and its coal policies badly lag global and US best practice, with no coal power phaseout and a very high 50% revenue threshold for its coal mining phaseout, allowing it to continue to finance major miners like Glencore. Chase continues to support companies implicated in Indigenous rights abuses, like TC Energy, Enbridge, GeoPark, and Frontera.

The groups behind the STMP coalition say that JPMorgan Chase must make ending expansion of fossil fuels a precondition for financing clients involved in coal, oil and gas; it must commit to phasing out its fossil fuel financing, on a timeline consistent with limiting climate change to 1.5C; and it must end support for projects and companies implicated in human rights abuses, especially Indigenous rights abuses.

Jason Opeña Disterhoft, senior campaigner, climate and energy at the Rainforest Action Network, said:

JPMorgan Chase’s intensity-only 2030 targets are a page directly from Big Oil’s playbook. They are fully compatible with massive expansion of fossil fuels and increased absolute emissions during the decade when we need to cut carbon pollution in half. By calling these targets ‘Paris-aligned,’ JPMorgan Chase is offering a fig leaf for fossil expansion.

Ben Cushing, a senior campaign representative leading the Sierra Club’s financial advocacy campaign, said:

If JPMorgan Chase wants its ‘Paris-aligned’ pledge to be taken seriously, it needs to set out near-term targets for reducing its absolute emissions and put an end to its financing of fossil fuel expansion.

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Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in White River Junction, Vermont. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at michelle@9to5mac.com. Check out her personal blog.