As individuals become more and more aware of the implications of oil drilling and pipeline expansion, pressure has been placed on the banking industry that funds such initiatives. Climate groups calculated over $700 billion in fossil-fuel financing by the world’s largest banks since the signing of the Paris agreement in 2016. The protection of native lands during the Standing Rock Protest in 2016, shed light on the degradation of land and water from Big Oil, and the lengths they will go to get what they want. Thousands of people from around the world showed up in support of the Great Sioux Nation in protecting their rights, water and land.
After witnessing the powerful public backlash and hearing testimony from the tribal community, then President Barack Obama, put a halt to the construction until an environmental assessment was done by the Army Corp of Engineers. Unfortunately, it was a short-lived victory. On January 24, 2017, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that reversed the Obama legislation and advanced the construction of the pipeline by expediting the environmental review.
During the time of protest, Americans rallied together demanding Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase and numerous other large banks, to immediately halt the funding of oil exploration. Word spread throughout social media, asking individuals to close their accounts with the banks and write letters to why they were closing their accounts. Over the last two years, numerous agencies and committees have met with representatives from big banks to discuss the threats of fossil fuel exploration. Because of these pressures, many of the banks involved have updated their energy policies and ceased funding for certain fossil fuel-related projects.
This is the perfect example of what can happen when people join together and protect the rights of all people as well as our precious planet. Take a look at the response from banks as they one by one, pull funding for these initiatives.
- Goldman Sachs has announced the strongest fossil-fuel finance restrictions of any major U.S. bank. It is the first major U.S. bank to rule out direct finance for thermal coal mines and plants world-wide, including a phaseout of financing for significant thermal coal mining companies.
- JP Morgan Chase is to end fossil fuel loans for Arctic oil drilling and phase out loans for coal mining under new climate initiatives.
- Wells Fargo does not directly finance oil and gas projects in the Arctic region, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, part of a larger 2018 risk-based decision to forego participation in any project-specific transaction in the region.
- HSBC will not provide project financing for new offshore oil and gas projects in the Arctic.
Though these are great victories for the protection of our planet, we still have a long way to go. Many other banks, such as Bank of America, have continued to invest in the degradation of our planet through fossil fuel exploration. It is imperative that humankind holds itself accountable for the degradation and destruction our greed has caused the planet and its inhabitants. Only acting collectively can we make the impacts needed to create a more sustainable and loving planet.
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