Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Chart of the Day
1 April 2022

Banks are pouring billions into fossil fuels despite green pledges

In 2021 the world’s 60 largest lenders provided $742bn to fossil fuel companies.

By Polly Bindman

Banks show little sign of reducing their financing of fossil fuels despite their commitments to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, according to data from the Rainforest Action Network (RAN).

In 2021 the world’s 60 largest lenders provided $742bn to fossil fuel companies, bringing the total to $4.6trn in the six years since the adoption of the Paris Agreement on tackling climate change. 


The figures are presented in the RAN’s annual assessment of banks’ fossil fuel financing activities, which weights each transaction according to how much of a company’s operations are dedicated to each fossil fuel subsector -- such as coal power, or Arctic oil and gas. 

While total financing in 2021 was slightly lower than it was in 2020, the annual figures show an overall increase since 2016. As 44 of the 60 banks analysed have now made pledges to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, the RAN claims they are “patting themselves on the back while delaying serious climate action”. 

Overall fossil fuel financing remains dominated by four American banks: JPMorgan Chase, Citi, Wells Fargo and Bank of America. While a number of banks have implemented policies restricting their financing of coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel, a large majority of the funding in 2021 (67 per cent) went to oil and gas firms. JPMorgan, for example, was the largest Western financier of Russian state oil major Gazprom over the past six years. 

Aside from one French bank, La Banque Postale, none of the banks committing to net zero by 2050 have ruled out financing for companies expanding their oil and gas operations. 

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.

Content from our partners
How do we secure the hybrid office?
How materials innovation can help achieve net zero and level-up the UK
Fantastic mental well-being strategies and where to find them