The climate has a cash flow problem.
Far more of the world’s money is flowing to the causes of the climate crisis than to the solutions.
As the climate crisis escalates, fossil fuels and industrial agriculture – the two industries that are the largest contributors to climate change – continue to expand and thrive. Meanwhile, the solutions needed to address the climate crisis remain woefully underfunded.
The climate impact of burning fossil fuels is well known, but the role of industrialised agriculture in the climate crisis is less widely publicised. Agriculture is the second-largest contributor to climate change, and industrialised approaches marketed and controlled by giant agribusiness corporations are responsible for the bulk of emissions in the sector.2 These industrialised agriculture approaches drive deforestation, aggressively market agrochemicals that lead to large amounts of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and expand factory farming. They also undermine billions of smallholder farmers and their agroecological farming systems which could otherwise feed the world while cooling the planet. Industrial agriculture’s reliance on fossil fuels to produce agrochemicals is just one way in which the two industries are deeply co-dependent.
Countries in the Global South, already disproportionately affected by the impacts of the climate crisis, are playing host to an increasing number of fossil fuel and industrial agriculture developments such as coal mines, gas wells, oil pipelines, coal-fired power plants and monoculture plantations blasted with agrochemicals such as fossil fertilisers and pesticides. These lead to conflicts over land and water, cause premature deaths, destroy ecosystems, poison rivers and lakes, and drive up the climate change impacts already devastating their communities.
Financing fossil fuels and industrial agriculture also risks locking Global South countries into building expensive and debt-dependent infrastructure that will quickly become outdated, rather than investing in sustainable opportunities for development like renewable energy and agroecology.
This report tracks financial flows from banks to fossil fuels and industrial agriculture in the 134 countries of the Global South.
Despite global banks’ public declarations that they are addressing climate change, the scale of their continued fossil fuel and industrial agriculture financing is staggering.