The world's biggest lender to fossil fuel projects just took a baby step toward curbing that investment.
Yet for climate activists, JPMorgan Chase's new restrictions on loans to coal mining, coal power and Arctic oil and gas drilling are welcome — but still not enough, Steven Mufson and I reported Monday evening.
“It seems like weak beer to me, basically just copying Goldman,” climate activist Bill McKibben said, comparing the pledges to those recently made by Goldman Sachs. “But it shows that even the biggest bank on Earth feels citizen pressure, so we will keep supplying that!”
JPMorgan, he added, will “retain the title of the doomsday bank.”
JPMorgan said on Monday it would effectively stop offering loans to new coal-fired power plants or refinancing to existing ones. It will also no longer provide money or advice to firms making most of their revenue from coal. Existing loans would be phased out by 2024. The bank also said it will no longer finance oil and gas developments in the Arctic.
But the new environmental goals came with a bunch of caveats.
The bank can still do business with big coal-mining companies that have other major revenue streams. “That’s a big loophole,” said Jason Disterhoft, a campaigner at the Rainforest Action Network.
And JPMorgan will still provide loans to oil and gas projects in the Lower 48 states and other parts of the world. “Oil and gas activity in the Arctic is so slim anyway that lending for such activity is essentially meaningless,” said Pavel Molchanov, senior energy analyst at the investment firm Raymond James.
The bank has increasingly become a target of activists, who have denounced it for providing $196 billion in financing for coal, oil, natural gas and pipeline projects from 2016 through 2018, following the Paris climate accord. The bank has also come under criticism because its board includes former ExxonMobil chief executive Lee R. Raymond, who has a long record of dismissing concerns about climate change.
Climate activists have staged protests at JPMorgan branches in recent months over the bank’s outsize role in underwriting the oil, gas and coal industries.
As one example, Monica Nelson, a student at the University of California at San Diego, earlier this month helped organize a protest at the campus’s Chase branch where activists held up a banner reading “CHASE THEM OUT.” “We would like the university not to give them the next five-year lease,” she said.
Since President Trump’s election in 2016, environmental groups have turned their attention to Wall Street banks, insurance firms and other private-sector players as their increasingly urgent calls to address climate change have largely fallen on deaf ears in the White House and the GOP-controlled Senate.
Climate activists “have been looking for other ways to stop the growth of the fossil fuel industry,” said Ben Cushing, a climate campaigner at the Sierra Club. “Getting major Wall Street firms to take climate change seriously is important no matter what party is in power.”
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- To quote: “Bernie unequivocally supports federal unions in their efforts to fight Trump’s union-busting regime,” the group said in a statement. “… As President, Sanders will allow EPA workers to return to serving our mission and will treat climate change with the urgency our scientists know is needed to save our country and our planet.”
- It's a first: It's the union chapter's first endorsement ever, according to Politico's Alex Guillén. Sanders won the group's poll with 44 percent.
- Beyond the 2020 election, the national chapter has been pushing a “Workers’ Bill of Rights” in the Trump era too: “An AFGE petition complains about Trump policies that ‘run counter to science’ and ‘the Administration’s all-out assault on workers at the EPA,’ ” The Post's Joe Davidson writes. The agency has dismissed the criticism, saying in a statement “we value the input of our career scientists.”
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- What’s next: Stacey Harper, an associate professor at Oregon State University who helped put the conference together, said the scientists want to “prioritize who it is that we’re concerned about protecting: what organisms, what endangered species, what regions. And that will help us hone in ... and determine the data we need to do a risk assessment.”
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- The House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry holds a hearing on “Promoting Rural Economies and Healthy Forests” on Wednesday.
- The House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment holds a hearing on “Proposals for a Water Resources Development Act of 2020” on Thursday.
— ‘It’s a big first’: A pair of cheetah cubs were born at the Columbus Zoo in Ohio after an in vitro fertilization procedure. Scientists are calling it a “huge scientific breakthrough,” The Post's Dana Hedgpeth reports.
History has been made! In a groundbreaking scientific breakthrough, two cheetah cubs have been born through in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer into a surrogate mother at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. 🐆🐆 Read more: https://t.co/KvRuAAIR4Q pic.twitter.com/2xtr4Fufm9— Columbus Zoo (@ColumbusZoo) February 24, 2020