Global banks pledged to cut emissions – but still invest billions on US gas exports
The terminals can’t move forward without money from the megabanks that bankrolled the first boom less than a decade ago. (Canva)
By Taylor Kate Brown for Floodlight and the Guardian
America’s massive gas export boom is about to get bigger. By the end of the decade, the Gulf coast could see as many as 12 new liquefied natural gas terminals (LNG) built along its shores.
This expansion would triple the amount of gas the US currently exports to be burned around the world, adding more than 200 coal plants worth of greenhouse gas emissions each year, according to one estimate.
The terminals can’t move forward without money from the megabanks that bankrolled the first boom less than a decade ago. Almost all of these same banks have pledged to work toward a world with net-zero emissions. But for many, their climate targets explicitly exempt LNG projects.
Banks have argued LNG exports help reduce climate pollution by replacing coal with gas but critics say the full emissions of the exports, including producing and moving that fuel around the world, make that calculus questionable. “Fossil fuel expansion is fundamentally incompatible with meeting that net-zero goal,” says Adele Shraiman, a campaign representative with Sierra Club’s Fossil-Free Finance project.
In March, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned any new fossil fuel development is likely to push the earth’s climate past an increasingly dangerous 2 degrees of warming. Both environmental groups and major investors have said banks are not using their financial power fast enough to cut carbon pollution and invest in zero-emissions energy.