Big Banks Are Ditching Arctic Drilling, But They Still Don't Deserve Your Money

Submitted by abadalov on December 7, 2020

By Fran Teplitz

Big banks globally have long played a destructive role when it comes to climate change – channeling $2.7 trillion, into the fossil fuel industry even after the Paris Climate Agreement. This financing includes support for traditional coal, natural gas, and oil extraction; liquified natural gas infrastructure; fracking; ultra-deep-water drilling; tar sands oil extraction; and drilling and exploration in the Arctic for oil and gas. 

Of all the banks in the world, US big banks – JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citi and Bank of America – have provided the most financing for fossil fuels since the Paris agreement. 

Thankfully, the biggest US banks are now committing to policies against fossil fuel financing in the Arctic.  

Bank of America was the latest bank to affirm its new policy on November 30, 2020, including a goal to reach net zero emissions by 2020. 

Bank of America’s policy is welcomed (if overdue) news especially as the Trump administration works to auction off drilling rights in the Alaska wilderness quickly before president-elect Biden assumes office.  

While it’s important that a number of big banks are improving some of their climate-related practices and policies, after years of pressure from activists, much more is needed if we are to avert the worst outcomes of the climate crisis. Even though they stopped financing fossil fuels in the artice, the largest US banks are still investing billions of dollars in fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure. 

If you are still using a big bank, now is the time to switch to a better bank – and tell your big bank why! 

We have tips for switching accounts and a sample letter you can use to tell your bank why you’re leaving. 

There are thousands of better banking options across the country. Community development banks and credit unions, and Minority Depository Institutions, have better impacts for people and the planet. They support community needs in underserved areas – putting your deposits to work in line with your values. 

They also value you as a customer, have low fees, and many offer online banking. 

In the meantime, many organizations continue working to protect the Arctic refuge. The Gwich’in Steering Committee, representing indigenous tribes in Alaska and Canada directly impacted by drilling, has played a key role urging insurance companies and banks around the world to oppose drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). For years they have explained why preservation of the refuge is a human right issue. 

The Big Banks don’t deserve your money. Whether you need a personal or a business account, there are banks and credit unions that can meet your financial needs that don’t support the fossil fuel industry.  

Use our bank map to find a better bank today! 

More from the Blog