28th October 2020, Portfolio Earth published its Bankrolling Extinction report exposing the scale of 50 banks’ financial investments into sectors that adversely affect biodiversity. Strikingly, the report found that of the banks it assessed, an average of $52million of financial loans from each bank were linked to schemes that drive biodiversity degradation.
The report urgently responds to what has been termed the ‘Anthropocene Extinction’; a mass disappearance of the planet’s species driven by human activity. One estimation finds that around one million flora and fauna are now threatened with extinction.2 Yet despite this alarming reality, many of the intergovernmental targets set to protect endangered species have not been fully achieved.3
“On average, each of the 50 banks included in the research were linked to finance with biodiversity risk to the tune of USD 52 million.”
Portfolio Earth’s report suggests that part of the blame lies within the financial sector. Bankrolling Extinction discovered that of the 50 banks assessed 33% of the loans they issued were linked to the operation or creation of infrastructure, 25% were associated with metal and mineral mining, 20% with extraction and use of fossil fuels, and 10% with food production i.e. agriculture and fisheries.
These sectors are widely known to contribute to the use and abuse of land thus removing crucial habitats and producing high levels of carbon emissions, air and water pollution, yet the report found that not a single bank measures or monitors the impact of its activities on biodiversity.
With this backdrop, the report makes three demands:
1. Banks to disclose and reduce their impact on nature and stop finance for new fossil fuels, deforestation, overfishing and ecosystem destruction.
2. Governments to hold banks liable for damage resulting from bank lending.
3. People everywhere to have a say in how our money is invested to stop banks from causing damage to people and planet.
To see if your bank could be investing in schemes that help degrade and destroy nature, and to put them under pressure, read and share the Bankrolling Extinction report!
By Lauren Cox