“This is about us not just saying the right thing, but actually doing the right thing,” Marisa Buchanan, JPMorgan’s global head of sustainability, told CNN Business.
“Technology has to be such a huge piece of the puzzle when it comes to meeting the Paris climate goals. This is a big opportunity for us as a bank,” said Buchanan.
The announcements underscore how much pressure banks are under to show that they are part of the solution to the climate crisis. And it demonstrates how Wall Street increasingly views clean energy as a viable investment, not merely a feel-good initiative.
‘Banks are still net negatives’
“Banks are still net negatives in the overall sustainable finance horizon,” said Vanessa Fajans-Turner, executive director at BankFWD, a network that aims to persuade banks to phase out fossil fuel financing.
For instance, JPMorgan alone financed $51.3 billion in fossil fuels projects in 2020, according to the climate group report. That is roughly even with the $55 billion in green initiatives the bank said it supported last year.
“That’s not a coherent sustainable finance strategy, and the bank’s clients and competitors know it,” said Fajans-Turner. “We welcome the announcements by banks to be increasingly engaged climate actors. But banks still have a long way to go.”
Dimon: We can’t just walk away from fossil fuels
In other words, while JPMorgan is stepping up its support for green energy, it is not saying goodbye to fossil fuels.
Even though oil and gas are expected to be major fuel sources over the next decade, climate activists want to cut support for fossil fuels now.
“We cannot meaningfully address the climate crisis without stopping the expansion of fossil fuels,” Natalie Mebane, policy director at environmental group 350.org, said in a statement Wednesday in support of legislation that would stop new oil and gas leases on federal lands and water.
The bulk of the $2.5 trillion goal announced by JPMorgan deals with efforts to boost investment in underserved communities.
That includes providing financing to small businesses, affordable housing and education in low to moderate income communities in developed markets like the United States.
“There are so many communities around the world that don’t have the living standards we do in the United States and are in real need of infrastructure, jobs and economic growth,” said JPMorgan’s Buchanan.