Extreme Temperature Diary- Wednesday March 18th, 2020/ Main Topic: What And Who Is Propping Up The Fossil Fuel Industry

Wednesday March 18th… Dear Diary. The main purpose of this ongoing blog will be to track United States extreme or record temperatures related to climate change. Any reports I see of ETs will be listed below the main topic of the day. I’ll refer to extreme or record temperatures as ETs (not extraterrestrials).😉

Main Topic: What And Who Is Propping Up The Fossil Fuel Industry

Dear Diary: Today let’s get away from the coronavirus in association with the climate crisis as a main topic. For today’s class lesson let’s briefly look at the underpinnings of the fossil fuel industry, the foundation of which is becoming more wobbly with time. Hopefully, the legs will be kicked out from under this monster so it can be defeated like COVID-19 as fast as possible. I learned today from an article by The Hill that essentially four big banks keep the fossil fuel industry funded as of 2020. Here is that article:

https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/488098-four-us-banks-are-the-worlds-largest-fossil-fuel-financers-analysis

Four US banks are the world’s largest fossil fuel financers: analysis

By Rachel Frazin – 03/18/20 12:01 AM EDT

Four US banks are the world's largest fossil fuel financers: analysis

A new analysis from a coalition of environmental groups has found that four U.S. banks are the world’s largest fossil fuel financers.

The analysis, conducted by a group including the organizations BankTrack, Indigenous Environmental Network, Oil Change International, Reclaim Finance, and the Sierra Club, estimates that J.P. Morgan Chase provided nearly $65 billion in fossil fuel financing last year, the largest out of any of the 35 banks listed in the report. 

It also found that other top banks included Citi, which provided an estimated $52 billion, Bank of America, which provided an estimated $48 billion and Wells Fargo, which provided an estimated $45 billion.

The financing estimates were made based on loans and underwriting given to companies that have fossil fuels as part of their business. The percentage of each loan or underwriting deal that was counted toward a company’s financing dollar amount was based on what percentage of the company’s business comes from fossil fuels.

For example, if a bank gave a loan to a company whose business was 20 percent based in fossil fuels, only 20 percent of the loan would be counted in the bank’s total fossil fuel financing. 

The report comes at a time when financial institutions who provide money to fossil fuel companies are facing increased scrutiny. Some banks in recent weeks have taken steps to lessen their impact, focusing on fossil fuel drilling in the Arctic. 

J.P. Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs have said they will stop approving loans to companies pursuing new fossil fuel drilling in the Arctic. Wells Fargo has also said that it does not directly finance oil and gas projects in the Arctic. 

Asked for comment on the report, Wells Fargo told The Hill in a statement that it believes “climate change is one of the most urgent environmental and social issues of our time, and we are committed to doing our part to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy.”

The company also highlighted its 2018 commitment to provide $200 billion in financing to sustainable businesses and projects by 2030 and its lending or investing of about $49 billion in sustainable business and projects in 2018 and 2019. 

“We are also supporting our traditional energy customers as they transition to cleaner fuels and generation methods, and we actively engage them on best practices in adaptation around the need to operate in a carbon-constrained world and our expectations for robust management of greenhouse gas emissions in their operations,” the company said. 

Still, the groups behind Wednesday’s analysis are calling for more action from financial institutions. 

Alison Kirsch, the climate and energy lead researcher at Rainforest Action Network said in a statement that the findings show “a deeply disturbing picture of how financial institutions are driving us toward climate disaster.”

“The data reveals that global banks are not only ramping up financing of fossil fuels overall, but are also increasing funding for the companies most responsible for fossil fuel expansion.”

The report also found that between the start of 2016 and the end of 2019, the 35 banks have financed fossil fuels with more than $2.7 trillion combined. 

“It is long past time for all banks to pull their support for dirty fossil fuels, and our movement will continue to fight to ensure that they do,” said a statement from Ben Cushing, a campaigner from The Sierra Club’s Beyond Dirty Fuels initiative. 

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Next let’s look at what Trump is trying to do during the coronavirus crisis to prop up the oil and gas industry since prices for a barrel of oil are plunging towards $20 a barrel. Again, I’m using The Hill for reference:

https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/488106-house-democrats-fight-bailout-for-oil-industry

House Democrats warn against oil industry bailout

By Rebecca Beitsch – 03/17/20 06:05 PM EDT

A growing number of Democrats are voicing concern that the White House may pursue broad relief for the oil and gas industry amid sinking prices and the coronavirus pandemic.

Twenty House Democrats sent a letter to President Trump on Tuesday cautioning against dolling out further funds to the fossil fuel industry after the White House announced late last week that the government would purchase oil to shore up the industry.

“Diverting public funds to bail out this industry will do nothing to stop the spread of this deadly virus or provide relief to those in need,” lawmakers wrote in a letter spearheaded by Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-Calif.). “A bailout tells the American public that fossil fuel investors can rely on U.S. taxpayers to cover their bills when the industry’s corporate executives’ risky investments don’t pan out.”

On Friday, Trump announced that the U.S. would buy as much as 77 million barrels of oil to help the industry as prices slump amid an ongoing trade dispute between Russia and Saudi Arabia as well as the coronavirus.

Those barrels would be held in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, a move that would cost taxpayers more than $2.5 billion.

Senate Democrats have already decried such assistance, while large oil companies have previously said they are not interested in any financial assistance.

Democrats worry the public health crisis surrounding coronavirus will lead to the government propping up the oil industry and handicapping efforts to combat climate change.

“Using this public health crisis as an excuse for another giveaway to the fossil fuel industry is badly misguided. It would only worsen the climate crisis,” the lawmakers wrote. “A corporate bailout for oil and gas industry is not the answer to either crisis.”

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Back in the late 19th century the whale oil industry was replaced with petroleum. The writing was on the old proverbial wall that oil drilled from wells would replace traditional whale oil as a fuel, but those with vested interests wanted support. Now in the early 21st century we are seeing the same type of hands wanting cash even though the future resides with renewables. For the sake of the planet please let’s not keep palms greased.

Now, here are some of todays articles on the coronavirus:

Here is some more weather and climate news from Wednesday:

(As usual, this will be a fluid post in which more information gets added during the day as it crosses my radar, crediting all who have  put it on-line. Items will be archived on this site for posterity.)

(If you like these posts and my work please contribute via the PayPal widget, which has recently been added to this site. Thanks in advance for any support.) 

Guy Walton “The Climate Guy”

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