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Wind Industry Profile of

Fuelling Climate Change

How large corporations and banks are working together to further strengthen climate change

Images: PixabayImages: Pixabay

When large corporations are involved, large sums also are. In this case, too, a recent report by the British organisation InfluenceMap caused a stir. In the report, the organisation accuses the world's five largest listed oil and gas companies, ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, BP and Total, of having invested more than $1 billion in shareholder funds that provide for misleading climate-related branding and lobbying - with the aim of belittling or denying climate change. This sum is said to have been paid in the almost three years since the conclusion of the Paris Climate Agreement at the end of 2015 alone.

The extent to which this figure is actually correct is difficult to verify, as the companies mentioned are naturally not very interested in making such investments public. InfluenceMap therefore has to resort to "best-available disclosures" - which certainly allows criticism of the methodology.

The reaction of the companies affected was correspondingly clear, and the named figures were sent into the realm of fantasy. However, this may well contain a spark of truth, as the CleanTechnica website, which specialises in clean energy, points out. An important narrative difference lies between the distinction of the global energy mix versus the global electricity mix - on which the companies mentioned have actually made progress. Some of the large corporations concerned are particularly active in the wind industry. The fact that they continue to produce oil and gas is - according to the companies - solely due to global energy consumption, including also other sectors such as heat and transport.

Similar subtleties can be applied not only to oil companies but also to the IT industry, which likes to advertise that its data centres and services are now run on green electricity. But even with Google, Microsoft and Co this is of course only half the truth, as a recent study by the American blog Gizmodo showed. Large technology companies are increasingly joining forces with oil giants to provide automation, AI and large data services to improve oil production.

According to their own figures, Google is the world's largest buyer of renewable energies in the corporate sector (Image: Google)

These transactions don't take place in secret, but are announced openly by trade journals and business departments. Only so far the public has hardly noticed the good cooperation between 'Big Oil' and 'Big Tech'.

"It is indeed disturbing to see the tech industry helping move civilization back into the fossil age even as they purport to be about cutting edge technology intended to lead us into the future," said Dr. Michael Mann, Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science at Penn State. "It ultimately speaks to the amorality of corporate interests."

The financial institutions, which also spend a lot of money on dirty energy, fit seamlessly into this series. A recent report by the Rainforest Action Network, along with other organizations, shows that 33 global banks have provided $1.9 trillion for fossil fuels since the adoption of the Paris Climate Agreement. Of this $1.9 trillion total, $600 billion went to 100 companies that are most aggressively developing fossil fuels.

The report, entitled 'Banking on Climate Change 2019', is the tenth annual report on fossil fuels and the first analysis of the financing of the world's largest private banks for the entire fossil fuel sector. According to the report, the four largest global bankers of fossil fuels are all U.S. banks - JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citi and Bank of America. Barclays of England, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG) of Japan and RBC of Canada are also massive donors in this sector.

Alison Kirsch, Climate and Energy Lead Researcher at Rainforest Action Network, sharply criticizes this approach: "Alarming is an understatement. This report is a red alert. The massive scale at which global banks continue to pump billions of dollars into fossil fuels is flatly incompatible with a livable future. It’s an insult to logic, to science and to humanity that since the groundbreaking Paris Climate Agreement, financing for fossil fuels continues to rise. If banks don’t rapidly phase out their support for dirty energy, planetary collapse from man-made climate change is not just probable — it is imminent."

Big Money, Big Oil and Big Tech - at least they have something in common.

Katrin Radtke
USA, bank, Paris Climate Agreement, oil, money, climate change, lobby, branding, report

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