‘…[F]inancial leaders of today [must] embrace innovation and move beyond the profits of fossil fuels to develop banking models that will excel in a zero-carbon world.’
That’s a shift promoted by Rockefeller family members Daniel Growald, Peter Gill Case and Valerie Rockefeller, expressed in a weekend New York Times op-ed that follows a climate-pledge announcement from JPMorgan Chase
, their family’s legacy bank and the business that emerged from their family’s oil dominance.
Last week, JPMorgan Chase made an announcement that appeared to align its activities with the Paris Climate Agreement although, critics said, without actually committing to curtail its lending activities to the fossil-fuel sector.
The Paris pact calls for voluntary private and public sector agreement to hold the global temperature increase to well below 2 degrees Celsius, while pursuing efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees.
The trio, descended from John D. Rockefeller Sr., the oil tycoon and founder of once global-leading and eventually trust-busted Standard Oil, was also writing to announce new roles as co-founders and co-chairs of BankFWD. The organization was described as a network of individuals, businesses and foundations that will use their banking choices and public standing to persuade major banks to phase out their financing of fossil fuels and lead on climate matters.
JPMorgan’s pledge, while notable for its recognition of a changing and risky world, is ignoring outright lending limitations — “its major lever for change,” the op-ed authors said.
Since 2016, 35 banks have funneled $2.7 trillion into fossil fuel companies and projects, according to the Rainforest Action Network. Of these banks, JPMorgan Chase has led by providing 36% more financing than the next largest lender to the sector, Wells Fargo
Last month, a report turned out by the bipartisan task force for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission said “climate change poses a major risk to the stability of the U.S. financial system and to its ability to sustain the American economy.”
Diversifying away from oil into green energy isn’t just lip service, but part of prudent investment evolution, the Rockefeller family members wrote: “Fossil fuels have been essential to the development of the modern world and its widespread, though unequal, prosperity. The next generation of innovators, working in low- and zero-carbon technologies and in high finance, will prosper from the greatest business and technological revolution in history.”