A stable and liveable climate is great for everyone including banks. Banks should happily invest in a stable climate, and avoid funding projects that harm the environment. Banks certainly know the greatest threat to life on earth is the climate crisis.
The earth is our only home and banks ought to invest in healing the planet to achieve the Paris Climate Change Agreement goal of keeping global heating within 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial times.
The climate crisis is wrecking the planet faster than scientists originally thought. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) warned last year that rising greenhouse gas emissions could soon outstrip the ability of many communities to adapt.
Some of the world`s biggest banks, however, are burning planet earth with their environmentally harmful investments in fossil fuels. Such banks are inflaming the climate crisis when there can be no banking on a dead planet. Banks are generally not planet healers.
If your ill-health, the death of the planet, deforestation, atmospheric pollution, the poisoning of ecosystems and other environmental disasters are profitable, some banks will invest in the death of people and the planet.
Many banks have always sacrificed people and the planet on the altar of profit but a recent Action Aid International report highlighted the champions of financing the climate catastrophe. Such banks give 20 times more funding to these harmful projects than to climate- friendly solutions in Africa.
Banks like HSBC, Citigroup, and JP Morgan Chase have given $3.2 trillion to projects that harm the environment since 2015 when the world agreed to arrest the climate catastrophe vide the Climate Paris Agreement.
Yet despite the promise of the Paris Agreement, and thanks to irresponsible and greedy bank investments that inflame the climate emergency, the climate crisis is flooding is flooding Kampala after immersing Libya, Morocco, Greece and countless other places countless times.
We cannot stop the climate crisis when banks are still funding fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are the heartbeat of the climate emergency. Hence the United Nations defines climate change as “the long- term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns, mainly caused by human activities, especially the burning of fossil fuels.”
The climate crisis intensifies and makes more frequent extreme weather events like heavy downpours, floods, storms, lightning, earthquakes and drought. On Wednesday September 20, 2023, the climate crisis was loud in Kampala flooding a bank at the Forest mall in Lugogo and a shopping mall on William street.
Wounding nature for profit with deforestation, unsustainable agricultural practices, attacks on wetlands, addiction to dirty fossil fuels, unsustainable consumption and unsustainable development at the cost of precious, pristine and priceless environment is disingenuous.
It has opened the gates to hell. Unfortunately, the poorest, weakest and most vulnerable members of the human family are the ones hardest hit by the climate catastrophe they are not responsible for. Climate shit falls from the rich and powerful above, especially in the global north and falls on the poor, weak and marginalised, especially in the global south, including Africa.
With the fossil fuel industry responsible for 86 per cent of the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere, the primary greenhouse gas causing global heating by forming an atmospheric blanket that traps and stops the sun’s heat from escaping back, the climate crisis is a fossil fuels crisis.
As scientists and the United Nations have made clear, it is the burning of gas, the burning of oil and the burning of coal that is causing the climate catastrophe exemplified by such global boiling that 2023 is the hottest year in history and its three months of June, July and August are the hottest months ever.
Banks must stop financing global heating through financing fossil fuel projects and radically increase their investment in renewable energy like solar power, wind power, hydropower and green hydrogen. Banking must respect and listen to climate science. So too should politicians, businesses, professionals, markets, students, citizens, universities and everyone.
According to the IPPC, the window for the Paris climate goal of 1.5 degrees celcius is fast closing and needed are deep and rapid cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. The emissions must peak by 2025. We are the generation history has tasked with the responsibility to halt the climate catastrophe and bestow upon our children a liveable future.
Let us stop the climate catastrophe. It diminishes our health, causes hunger, destroys economies, spreads diseases, deepens poverty and exacerbates conflicts. The climate crisis is a fossil fuels crisis that endangers peace, health, development, livelihoods, life and happiness.
That’s why across the world, people recently marched protesting against fossil fuels calling on an end to all fossil fuels investments, declarations of a climate emergency and castigated leaders like US president Joe Biden, President Museveni and British premier Rishi Sunak who continue to license more planet- burning oil and gas projects.
In an era of global boiling, we can either have human rights or fossil fuels; human health or coal; sustainable development or natural gas; a livable future or oil. Banks are eating our climate cake by funding fossil fuels including the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP).
The author is CEO, Environment Shield