The top 5 UK banks are fuelling climate change by financing fossil fuel extraction, according to a new report released today by the World Development Movement.
The report follows the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) assessment of the state of the world's climate, and comes on the first day of new rules requiring all UK companies to make their carbon emissions public1. Campaigners argue the UK rules will let banks off the hook by failing to include emissions from fossil fuel projects they finance.
The top five UK banks HSBC, Barclays, Standard Chartered, RBS and Lloyds underwrote bonds and shares in fossil fuel companies worth £170 billion between 2010 and 20122. The London Stock Exchange holds more coal reserves than any other stock exchange, and total fossil fuel reserves worth £900 billion3, giving coal, oil and gas companies access to money from UK pension funds and investors. The value of shares in renewable energy companies on the exchange is only £5 billion, or 0.56% of the value of fossil fuel shares4.
The report also highlights the vast reserves of unburnable carbon held by fossil fuel companies listed on the exchange, known as the 'carbon bubble'. Experts warn that burning these reserves would spell catastrophic consequences for climate change.
The World Development Movement is calling for the new carbon reporting rules to force banks and pension funds to report all carbon emissions from the fossil fuels they finance. The campaign group is also calling on the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to reform the listing criteria for the London Stock Exchange so that companies with poor social, environmental and climate criteria are unable to list.