Credit Suisse and UBS together provided $83.3 billion in financing for the exploration and production of fossil fuels in the years from 2016 through 2018, according to a study called «Banking on Climate Change». The study was sponsored by a group of non-governmental organization and presented by Greenpeace on Wednesday.
The report analyzed the work of 33 banks worldwide and found that the four biggest sponsors of fossil fuel projects were U.S.-based: J.P. Morgan, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Bank of America.
Switzerland and Fossil Fuel Exploration
Credit Suisse added more than $57 billion to the total and ranked 14 in the table, while its bigger rival UBS accounted for $26 billion, putting it in 25th place. Measured by the size of the population, the investments of the two big banks put Switzerland top of this politically charged list.
Credit Suisse told finews.com that the bank assumed its share of the responsibility in the fight against climate change in supporting the transition to an economy that generated less carbon dioxide and was climate resistant.
The company added that it had tightened its rules on sensitive industries: since 2016, Credit Suisse has restricted the financing of new mining projects for thermal coal and new coal-fired power stations.
UBS Reproaches NGOs
UBS also responded to today’s presentation and criticized the approach used by the NGOs: «We consider the methodology used by the NGOs as highly questionable and simplistic,» said Christian Leitz, head of corporate responsibility at UBS, in a statement. «We have a comprehensive climate strategy and in our external communication we show clearly that we have significantly reduced our involvement in the field of fossil fuels.»
Green Parties Stand to Gain in Elections
Still, as more and more students vent their frustration about a lack of political action on climate change on the streets of Switzerland and abroad, the report about the banks’ role in financing fossil fuel exploration comes at a sensitive time. Switzerland will elect a new parliament in the autumn and environmental groups hope to benefit from the youthful protests.