Climate change, long considered an urgent but future threat, is now with us. We now all live in countries impacted one way or the other by climate change: heat waves and fires; droughts and water shortages; excessive rainfall and floods; hurricanes and hail storms; failing crops and shifting seasons; rising sea levels and warming oceans; plant and animal species going extinct; creeping desertification; forced migration and other climate-related disruptions of communities and livelihoods now determine the lives of millions of people around the world.
End the fossil fuel era
How can we prevent full climate breakdown? By tackling the root cause of climate change, which is the continued extraction and burning of coal, oil and gas, by far the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. We can end the fossil fuel era –the technology is there– but we need our governments and financial institutions, including banks, to stop supporting the fossil fuels of the past and invest in a rapid and just transition to a 100% clean energy future that serves our communities and not corporations.
This requires first an end to the expansion of the fossil fuel industry. The oil, gas, and coal reserves in existing fields and mines across the world already far exceed what we can burn if we want to limit average global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees, aiming for 1.5 degrees, as over 190 countries agreed at the 2015 UN Climate Summit in Paris. Second, we need to organise a rapid and just transition away from the use of fossil fuels to 100% renewable energy solutions. With political will and human ingenuity we can reinvent our societies and rebuild our infrastructure, so that we no longer rely on fossil fuels to meet our energy needs.
Stop Fossil Banks
Private sector banks must stop financing the fossil fuel industry. But this is not happening! Each new bank-financed oil well, coal power plant, gas terminal or coal mine delays the end of the fossil fuel era. Between 2016 and 2018, just 33 global private sector banks funnelled a staggering US$1.9 TRILLION into fossil fuel projects and companies.
Banks tell us they increase their lending for renewable energy, they ‘engage with clients on emissions reduction’, they change their light bulbs. Some have moved further and no longer finance coal mines, tar sands, or oil projects in the Arctic. This is a start. But no large bank has yet committed to end its financing of the fossil fuel industry altogether.
Join this Campaign
We want banks to clearly and publicly acknowledge that stopping climate breakdown requires putting an end to the exploration and burning of fossil fuels, as well as their support for the fossil fuel industry. We demand that banks publicly commit, by the 25th UN Climate Summit in November 2019 at the latest, to end their financing of all new fossil fuel exploration, extraction and power projects, and that they publish a robust and timed phase out plan for all their existing fossil fuel clients.
It will take sustained pressure from us – citizens and bank customers from all over the world – to ensure banks make such commitments. We are counting on you to help build that pressure. Start by signing the 'Global Call on Banks', then join us on our next steps.