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How banks finance the climate crisis

Our latest collaboration, with Emily Atkin at Heated, investigates how decision-makers at major banks have conflicts of interest on climate, and what that means for the projects they back.

Jami Gaither's property in Alida, Minnesota, abuts the route for the Line 3 tar sands oil pipeline. Emily Atkin/Heated

Three out of every four board members at seven major US banks (77%) have current or past ties to 'climate-conflicted' companies or organizationsfrom oil and gas corporations to trade groups that lobby against reducing climate pollution, according to a first-of-its-kind review by climate influence analysts for the blog DeSmog.

One of the controversial projects those board members have chosen to back is the new Line 3 tar sands oil pipeline, currently under construction in northern Minnesota. If completed, the project would allow Canadian oil giant Enbridge to double the amount of high-polluting tar sands oil it currently transports through the region to 760,000 barrels per day.

“The banks are gorging on doughnuts and then eating an apple afterwards,” said Richard Brooks, the Toronto-based climate finance director for

Go behind the scenes with Emily Holden, Emily Atkin and Tara Houska, whose group Giniw Collective has led several direct actions against Line 3. (Houska joins us at about the 15-minute mark.)

In the photo above, Houska demonstrates how to tap a tree for sap. She believes staying connected to the land is critical. Emily Atkin/Heated

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