Frequently Asked Questions — click to open
Most financial institutions are complicit in the climate crisis. Wall Street banks provide hundreds of billions of dollars in loans to the fossil fuel industry. Asset managers ― companies that people pay to manage and invest their money ― are the world’s largest investors in fossil fuels. Insurance companies both invest in fossil fuel companies and provide them with essential insurance for their harmful projects.
Meanwhile, many university endowments and pension funds, collectively worth trillions of dollars, continue to invest in the fossil fuel industry and companies that are causing deforestation. As Bill McKibben has pointed out in the New Yorker, collectively these companies are the Money is the Oxygen on Which the Fire of Global Warming Burns.
Asset managers are companies that people, businesses and organizations pay to invest their money. Since the financial crisis of 2009, asset managers have become the biggest owners of the global economy ― in total, asset managers control around $90 trillion of global capital. The world’s largest asset manager, BlackRock, is responsible for investing over $7 trillion. Just three US asset managers, BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street own close to 25% of every company in the S&P 500.
Asset managers are the world’s largest investors in fossil fuels ― and are also some of the companies that have the greatest power to force the global economy to act on climate.
As the world’s largest shareholders, asset managerscan vote directors who obstruct climate action off of corporate boards. They can vote in favor of climate resolutions at corporate annual general meetings (AGMs) and shareholder meetings. And they can help redirect trillions of dollars from the companies driving climate chaos to companies that are a part of the solution.
JPMorgan Chase. Since the Paris Agreement was signed, JPMorgan Chase has financed$268 billion to fossil fuel companies. To give that some context, consider that $268 billion is greater than the sharemarket value of BP, Shell and Chevron combined. Or that $268 billion is more than the annual GDP of over one hundred and forty countries.
Chase has loaned more to coal companies and companies expanding fossil fuel operations than any other bank on earth. Chase is the largest backer of tar sands of any US bank. All told, they have provided more money to the fossil fuel industry than any other bank by a 29% margin.
Other US banks also feature highly on the worst offenders list–since the Paris Accord was agreed to by every country on Earth, Wells Fargo has lent over $151 billion to the fossil fuel industry, Citibank over $129 billion and Bank of America over $106 billion. These four banks have loaned more to the fossil fuel industry than any other banks in the world.
BlackRock is the world’s largest investor in fossil fuels. US asset managers, Vanguard and State Street aren’t far behind. These three companies, collectively known as the “Big Three”, own vast amounts of the global economy ― and, as such, bear a special responsibility to act on climate.
Insurance companies support the fossil fuel industry in two main ways: 1) providing insurance to dangerous fossil fuel infrastructure like tar sands pipelines and fracking wells and LNG; 2) investing billions of their customers’ premiums in fossil fuel companies.
Liberty Mutual provides insurance for the toxic Keystone XL and Trans Mountain pipelines, and is one of the US insurance companies that is most in bed with the fossil fuel industry. Other insurers, such as AIG, Chubb, The Hartford and Travelers, are all also continuing to provide essential insurance for fossil fuel projects ― insurance without which these projects could not be built.
In the US alone, pension funds are worth $4 trillion ― and almost all pensions invest in the fossil fuel industry, providing them with both the social and financial capital that they need to operate. Same goes for university endowments. Harvard alone invests more than $40 billion. Until pension funds and university endowments divest from fossil fuels, they are complicit in the climate crisis.
Yes. Unless you’ve taken effort to make sure that your money isn’t being invested in fossil fuels, it most likely is.
There are several ways to do that. Find a bank that isn’t investing in climate chaos. There are resources on our Move Your Money page to help you do that. You can use these tools to make sure that your personal investments such as your 401k, are not invested in fossil fuels.
When it comes to insurance, unfortunately, almost all insurers are involved in fossil fuels to some extent. However, Lemonade is an online home and renters’ insurance company that has committed to never invest in fossil fuels. Of the big insurers, Swiss Re, Zurich (and its subsidiary Farmers Insurance), and AXA have some of the best policies on fossil fuels, though they are not nearly good enough.
We’re building a people-powered movement to hold Wall Street accountable for its role in the climate crisis.
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