In a big win for fossil fuel divestment campaigns, JPMorgan Chase—the largest bank in the United States—ruled out financing arctic drilling projects in their newest “Environmental and Social Policy Framework” manual updated and released in February 2020. This victory comes after a recent report from the Rainforest Action Network found that global banks put $1.9 trillion into fossil fuel companies and extraction attempts. JPMorgan Chase and other major banks have been the target of successful protest efforts demanding that banks divest resources from fossil fuels. Since the Paris Climate Agreement, JPMorgan Chase has financed $196 billion to fossil fuel industries, or 10% of all fossil fuel finance from the 33 major global banks—making them the largest bank financer of the fossil fuel industry.
Their manual’s updated section reads as follows:
“JPMorgan Chase will not provide project financing or other forms of asset-specific financing where the proceeds will be used for upstream, midstream or downstream greenfield oil and gas development in the Arctic, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.”
In addition to this pledge, the guide outlines the bank’s policy prohibiting financing companies that engage in illegal logging, illegal wildlife trafficking, uncontrolled fire to clear land, or to finance new coal power plants.
Banks that divest from financing dangerous fossil fuel extraction projects play a major part in addressing the climate change crisis. Since fossil fuel projects involve heavy capital investments, this decision by JPMorgan Chase means we can avoid breaking ground on new carbon intensive fossil fuel projects, averting some future environmental impacts. And it’s all thanks to climate and divestment activists around the world!