JP Morgan Tops List of 'Climate-Killing' Banks Financing Coal Industry: Report

As the saying goes, there won't be smoke if there's no fire. In this case, there would be no fire if institutions had not been obligingly putting more wood into it, fanning it out of proportion.

In a study presented at the 17th U.N. conference on climate change in Durban, South Africa, an alliance of environmental groups warned that efforts will be in vain as long as banks are willing to finance expansion of the coal industry, one of the world's biggest sources of greenhouse gases.

The study, "Bankrolling Climate Change," examined the portfolios of 93 major banks and named 20 global banks, led by JP Morgan Chase of the U.S., that lent a total of $308 billion to the coal industry from 2005 to 2010.

"Between 2005 and 2010, coal financing almost doubled. If we don't take banks to task now, coal financing will continue to grow," Tristen Taylor of Earthlife said.

"If banks provide money for these projects, they will wreck all attempts to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius," said Heffa Schuecking of environmental think tank Urgewald, who worked on the report.

The report noted that a 600-megawatt power plant costs around $2 billion to build. Any coal enterprise's first plan of action is to resort to bank financing to be able to gather immediate funds.

Once built, each new power plant will add millions of tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually throughout its lifetime, which is more or less between 30 to 40 years.

Moreover, coal mining, according to the report, is harmful to natural landscapes, communities and water resources as these emit toxic wastes.

JP Morgan Chase led the 20 global banks lending to the coal, at $22,329 billion, followed by Citi, $18,5643 billion; Bank of America, $16,9974 billion; Morgan Stanley, $16,3585 billion; Barclays, $15,5446 billion; Deutsche Bank, $15,4947 billion; Royal Bank of Scotland, $14,7778 billion; BNP Paribas, $14,4379 billion; Credit Suisse, $12,81810 billion; and UBS$11,09311 billion.

Three Chinese banks, Bank of China, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and China Construction Bank, were included in the top 20 lenders.

"Interestingly, almost all of the top 20 climate-killer banks in our ranking have made far-reaching statements regarding their commitment to combatting climate change," said Yann Louvel of BankTrack, an NGO that monitors the activities of banks.

Data from the World Meteorological Organisation showed CO2 levels have grown by 2.3 parts per million (ppm) between 2009 and 2010. They have risen by around a third since pre-industrial times and are now at their highest in 650,000 years, climate scientists added.

The top 20 'climate killer' banks

1 JPMorgan Chase

2 Citi

3 Bank of America

4 Morgan Stanley

5 Barclays

6 Deutsche Bank

7 Royal Bank of Scotland

8 BNP Paribas

9 Credit Suisse

10 UBS

11 Goldman Sachs

12 Bank of China

13 Industrial and Commercial Bank of China

14 Crédit Agricole / Calyon

15 UniCredit / HVB

16 China Construction Bank

17 Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group

18 Société Générale

19 Wells Fargo


The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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