Europe’s largest banks have helped fossil fuel companies raise nearly £900bn

Some of Europe’s largest banks have helped fossil fuel companies raise nearly £900 billion from the global bond markets since the Paris climate agreement.

An investigation by The Guardian newspaper which analysed thousands of transactions since 2016 found that lenders including Deutsche Bank, HSBC and Barclays have continued to profit from the sector’s expansion, via fossil fuel bonds.

Climate expert and professor of business in society at Copenhagen Business School’s Centre for Sustainability Andreas Rache told the newspaper:

“Participating in underwriting activities makes banks complicit in the emissions arising from bonds issued by the oil and gas companies. You help them raise money, and you know what this money will be used for, thereby you are involved in the activity.”

Some of the organisations implicated, including HSBC are members of the Bankers for Net Zero coalition, whilst Barclays is seeking a new climate director.

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A recent survey by the non-profit share-action found that almost 40% of UK customers would change banks over fossil fuel investments, according to the non-profit ShareAction.

A range of events and organisations have dropped their links with fossil fuel companies – from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, to the LGBT Awards, as well as the Church of England Pension Board and the British Museum.

Speaking at Sustainability Live earlier this month, ShareAction Head of Banking Programme Jeanne Martin said: “Financial institutions have a crucial role to play, as I said, and they can innovate in the climate crisis”.

“They can do that in three ways. The first one is a little bit obvious, they can spend their money on climate friendly projects and businesses.”

“The second is that they can undertake what we call good stewardship. And the third one is that they can use their political clouds to drive regulatory change.”

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