JPMorgan Chase’s latest climate goals show the dangers of tricky carbon accounting

JPMorgan Chase is just not an oil and fuel firm, however to environmentalists, it could as properly be: In 2020, it was deemed the world’s worst “fossil financial institution” by a gaggle of climate organizations, having spent $51.3 billion in fossil gasoline financing in that yr alone. Now, JPMorgan Chase has introduced new carbon discount targets that it says are aligned with the Paris Settlement—however a report says these targets are meaningless, as a result of it could be doable to hit them even when the firm expands its financing of fossil fuels, and even elevated its whole emissions.

The financial institution’s new 2030 carbon discount targets, introduced May 13, 2021 specify reductions not in absolute emissions however in “carbon depth” for all sectors of JPMorgan Chase’s portfolio, together with electrical energy, oil and fuel, and auto manufacturing. Carbon depth is a measurement of the greenhouse fuel emissions per unit of output, like the quantity of carbon emitted per kilojoule of oil and fuel power. The issue, says Jason Opeña Disterhoft, senior climate and power campaigner with Rainforest Motion Community, which printed the analysis of JPMorgan Chase’s 2030 climate targets, is that completely different fossil fuels have completely different carbon intensities, which might let firms manipulate the numbers to decrease depth however not lower emissions.  “Broadly talking, fossil fuel is much less carbon-intensive than oil, and positively much less carbon-intensive than coal,” he says. “So in the event you’re a giant oil and fuel firm, you possibly can preserve the quantity of oil you’re extracting comparatively fixed, and massively enhance the quantity of fuel you’re extracting, and your carbon depth goes down.”

On this manner, JPMorgan Chase, although not an oil firm itself, is “taking a web page out of Huge Oil’s playbook,” Disterhoft says. Exxon, for example, introduced a climate plan in December 2020 that solely aimed to scale back emissions depth by 15 to twenty% by 2025, and not using a dedication to scale back oil manufacturing (actually, Exxon plans to ramp up its oil manufacturing, which is able to enhance its general carbon footprint). In February 2021, Shell additionally introduced goals to scale back its web carbon depth 20% by 2030.

Climate targets like Exxon’s are particularly dangerous as a result of they solely concern the depth of greenhouse gases emitted by extracting and refining oil and fuel, not the depth of emissions related to that oil and fuel’s use (this can be a distinction between so-called operational emissions and scope 3 emissions, the emissions of the consumer). Shell’s targets do embrace scope 3, and JPMorgan Chase’s climate targets roughly mirror what Shell is planning on doing, however, Disterhoft says, it’s nonetheless “simply merely incompatible with limiting climate change to 1.5 [degrees] and its incompatible with reducing emissions in half by the finish of this decade.”

As a monetary establishment “uniquely accountable amongst its friends for fueling fossil growth,” the evaluation says (JPMorgan Chase financed 56 of the 75 firms which are doing the most to increase oil and fuel), the financial institution has a accountability to do higher on the subject of climate goals. JPMorgan Chase has introduced restrictions on coal financing, together with that it gained’t finance new coal-fired energy crops or coal and fuel drilling in the arctic, however the evaluation calls on the financial institution to do extra, particularly on the subject of oil and fuel. JPMorgan didn’t reply to a request for remark earlier than press time.

To “actually align” with Paris goals, the evaluation suggests JPMorgan Chase instantly start phasing out its fossil financing (it recommends a full exit by 2030 in OECD and EU-member international locations and by 2040 in the relaxation of the world); make ending fossil gasoline growth a precondition for financing any shopper concerned in coal, oil, or fuel; and finish help for tasks implicated in human rights abuses. JPMorgan Chase has referred to as its climate depth targets Paris-aligned, “however they’re a lot lower than meets the eye,” Disterhoft says. “They’re totally suitable with fossil growth and will increase in absolute emissions. Science says we have to minimize absolute emissions in half by the finish of this decade, so intensity-only targets simply aren’t going to chop it.”