“Economists at the world’s largest funder of fossil fuels are warning that ‘we cannot rule out catastrophic outcomes where human life as we know it is threatened.'”
Economists at JPMorgan Chase, the world’s largest financier of fossil fuels, warned in a leaked document that the climate crisis has put Earth “on an unsustainable trajectory,” and that something must change “if the human race is going to survive,” reported the Guardian on Friday.
“Although precise predictions are not possible, it is clear that the Earth is on an unsustainable trajectory. Something will have to change at some point if the human race is going to survive,” the authors of the report wrote. “We cannot rule out catastrophic outcomes where human life as we know it is threatened.”
The authors say that maintaining the status quo “would likely push the earth to a place that we haven’t seen for many millions of years”, with consequences that might be impossible to reverse.
“Drawing on extensive academic literature and forecasts by the International Monetary Fund and the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC),the paper notes that global heating is on course to hit 3.5C above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century,” reported the Guardian, who reviewed the document. “It says most estimates of the likely economic and health costs are far too small because they fail to account for the loss of wealth, the discount rate and the possibility of increased natural disasters.”
Carbon emissions in the coming decades ‘will continue to affect the climate for centuries to come in a way that is likely to be irreversible,’ the paper’s authors wrote, arguing that climate change action should be inspired “by the likelihood of extreme events.’
Critics were quick to point to JPMorgan Chase’s massive role in causing the climate crisis, having lent $196 billion to the fossil-fuel industry in just the past three years since pledging its support to the Paris Agreement. Climate activist Bill McKibben notes that the bank has spent the last few years financing new forms of oil & gas infrastructure with the longest life-spans, the kinds of projects that lock in new fossil fuel extraction for decades to come.
“Over the past three years, JPMorgan Chase lent more money to the fossil-fuel industry than any bank on Earth — 29 percent more,” wrote climate activist Bill McKibben with Rolling Stone. “And over the past three years, JPMorgan Chase lent more money to the most expansionary parts of the fossil-fuel industry (new pipelines, Arctic drilling, deepsea exploration) than any other bank — 63 percent more.”
McKibben argues that beyond the smug hypocrisy of high-profile chief executive Jamie Dimon, another JPMorgan Chase board member is even more guilty for fueling the climate crisis: Lee Raymond.
“Lee Raymond went to work at Exxon after earning his Ph.D. in chemical engineering. He spent his entire working life there, joining its board in 1984, becoming president of the company in 1987, and eventually winding up as CEO from 1993 to 2005, a job that paid him $686 million, or $144,573 a day. Long before his retirement from Exxon, he also joined the board of Chase, and he has remained there ever since, in 2001 becoming lead independent director, the closest thing Dimon has to a boss. That is to say, he has led the biggest oil company and the biggest oil lender from the beginning of the global-warming era to the present.”
McKibben argues that Raymond’s policy of suppressing the findings of his company’s researchers, who found that fossil fuels were warming the planet back in the late 1970s and even provided “one chart, discovered in an archive,” that “showed a spot-on, perfect prediction for what CO2 concentrations and temperatures would be in 2020”, and instead funding climate disinformation campaigns, has been instrumental in preventing climate action in the United States.
“I’m not a U.S. company and I don’t make decisions based on what’s good for the U.S.,” Raymond once said.
Given Exxon’s record of suppressing science under Raymond’s leadership, former JPMorgan Chase managing director John Fullerton told McKibben that he doesn’t understand how Raymond continues to enjoy such a powerful role at one of the world’s biggest banks: “how he is not on trial for crimes against humanity is beyond me.”
Beyond JPMorgan Chase, other major financial institutions have recently made views to move away from the fossil fuel industry. Blackrock CEO Larry Fink, the head of the world’s largest asset manager, announced that his firm will now make climate change central to its investment decisions in January, and the European Investment Bank, the largest public bank in the world, pledged to end fossil-fuel lending altogether in 2020.
ExxonMobil’s stock plunged to a nine-year low earlier this month after posting poorfourth quarter results and being downgraded by Goldman Sachs, leading the fossil fuel giant to plunge $184 billion since its’ market valuation since its 2014 peak. Goldman has pledged to stop funding for new coal projects or arctic drilling.
Mad Money host Jim Cramer recently told CNBC that he’s “done” with fossil fuel stocks because he believes the industry is being pushed into “the death knell phase.”
“I’m done with fossil fuels … they’re just done. We’re starting to see divestment all over the world,” Cramer said. “You’re seeing divestiture by a lot of different funds. It’s going to be a parade. It’s going to be a parade that says, ’Look, these are tobacco and we’re not going to own them.”
“It’s good they [the researchers] are telling the truth more – it’s not good they [the bank] remain a strong funder of fossil fuels,” Rupert Read, an associate professor of philosophy at the University of East Anglia, and a spokesperson for campaign group Extinction Rebellion, said od JPMorganChase to the BBC.
“Everyone has to have responsibility for change, whether they are asset managers, or institutional investors, or chief executives, or shareholders,” Read continued.