If we are to truly put an end to oil and gas drilling in the Arctic, then the world’s financial institutions must stop providing the funds that support drilling operations. The good news is that America’s biggest bank is walking away from funding Arctic drilling, along with the world’s largest banker of fossil fuels.
That’s right, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo will no longer fund oil and gas drilling in the Arctic, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. JPMorgan Chase became the first major U.S. bank to place a prohibition on financing any sort of gas development, according to the Rainforest Action Network (RAN). Chase is the world’s largest banker of fossil fuels. The banking giant provided $196 billion in financing to fossil fuel companies between 2016 and 2018. The updated policy also rules out financing for new thermal coal mines and coal-fired power projects.
Chase will no longer directly finance coal plants without carbon capture and storage and will not refinance existing plants. However, by only prohibiting direct financing, Chase has left a loophole that may allow companies to build new coal-fired plants if they are being built without project-specific financing, which means we shouldn’t celebrate prematurely. Additionally, companies could still secure funding for coal power if they utilize carbon capture and storage technology, something that hasn’t been proven at scale.
JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo aren’t the only ones to abandon oil and gas drilling in the Arctic. Recently, Goldman Sachs and BlackRock made similar commitments.