The Top 20 Climate Killer Banks

Written by Mike G

Topics: Coal, Finance

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Bankrolling Climate Change coverA new report titled “Bankrolling Climate Change” calls out the top 20 banks that are financing the dirty coal industry.

The top three “climate killers” will not come as much of a surprise: JP Morgan Chase, Citi, and none other than Bank of America top the list with $22 billion, $18.27 billion, an $16.79 billion invested in coal since 2005, respectively.

As officials from around the world are assembling in Durban, South Africa to discuss ways to combat climate change, banks around the world are busy trying to figure out how they can profit off of making the climate crisis worse.

In fact, between 2005 — the year the Kyoto Protocol went into effect — and 2010, funding for coal nearly doubled. Yes, you read that right: As the world’s leaders have been trying to get their act together and deal with the most urgent existential crisis humanity has ever faced, the biggest banks in the world have been busy sinking as much money as they can into the single largest cause of that crisis (emissions from coal-fired power plants are the biggest source of man-made carbon pollution).

As the report notes, these banks are not unaware of the climate crisis. It’s just that they see it more as an opportunity for some great PR than a problem they have a stake in solving even if it means leaving money on the table. All of the top 20 coal bankrollers have made climate commitments that are drastically contradicted by where they’re actually investing their money.

JP Morgan Chase claims it’s “Helping the world transition to a low-carbon economy”, for instance. Citi holds itself out as the “Most innovative bank in climate change” — which sounds more like Citi is gunning for Chase’s number one spot than trying to help solve the climate crisis, but who am I to quibble with how Citi chooses to word its greenwash.

Bank of America has declared that “The most formidable challenge we face is global climate change.” A fittingly purposeless statement, given that BoA has invested $4.3 billion in the US coal industry, making it the single largest underwriter of America’s coal problem.

Here is a chart showing which banks made the top 20, and the amount they’ve invested in companies that are polluting our communities and wrecking our climate:

Bank in billion Euro   Ranking
JP Morgan Chase 16,540 1
Citi 13,751 2
Bank of America 12,590 3
Morgan Stanley 12,117 4
Barclays 11,514 5
Deutsche Bank 11,477 6
Royal Bank of Scotland 10,946 7
BNP Paribas 10,694 8
Credit Suisse 9,495 9
UBS 8,217 10
Goldman Sachs 6,770 11
Bank of China 6,323 12
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China 6,182 13
Crédit Agricole / Calyon 5,637 14
UniCredit / HVB 5,231 15
China Construction Bank 5,110 16
Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group 4,980 17
Société Générale 4,742 18
Wells Fargo 4,523 19
HSBC 4,432 20
Data provided by Profundo



An international coalition of NGOs came together to release this groundbreaking report, including urgewald, a German environmental organization; groundWork and Earthlife Africa Johannesburg, two South African social and environmental justice organizations; and BankTrack, an international network. RAN contributed research to the report.

A full copy of the study with a ranking of all the researched banks can be downloaded here. The underlying data for this research were provided by Profundo economic research. They can be found here.

2 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. ann sprayregen says:

    Folks, AThink Credit Unions. It’s not easy because you’ll find that banks you think are independent, turn out to be connected to Bank of America. But if you hunt able to find a credit union. Call first to make sure it’s an office and not just a credit union ATM station.

  2. We are using this data in our FEAR OF BANKING tour, which invaded the UBS lobby in Zurich, with Occupy Zurich activists and artists from the Cabaret Voltaire. In Barcelona our invasion was Deutschbank, in which nakedness was in evidence, thank the lord. On Tuesday the 14th, back in New York, we will enter the the Bank of America near Zuccotti Sq., a bank that has seen the presence of RAN’s high finance expert Amanda Starbuck.

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