AN OPEN LETTER FROM INVESTORS TO JAMIE DIMON REGARDING JPMORGAN CHASE’S CLIMATE RISK
June 19, 2019 (TBC)
Jamie Dimon Chair and CEOJPMorgan Chase & Co.270 Park Ave.New York, NY 10017
The undersigned investors, with over $XX billion in assets under management, write to express our significant concern over JPMorgan Chase’s approach to climate change.
We call on JPMorgan Chase — the world’s #1 banker of fossil fuels over the past three years, by a large margin — to clarify the bank’s approach to climate change, and to adopt a plan to align the bank’s policies and practices with the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to 1.5° Celsius, while fully respecting human rights. JPMorgan Chase has made high-profile commitments to 100% renewable energy in its own operations and $200 billion in sustainable financing, representing important steps toward seizing the opportunities afforded by the transition to a decarbonized economy. However, the scale of the firm’s concurrent financial backing of fossil fuel companies undermines these commitments and increases risks for the company, investors, the economy, society and the planet. Furthermore, JPMorgan Chase’s present-day funding is helping to lock in fossil fuel infrastructure, hence exacerbating future catastrophic climate-related impacts.
We note that JPMorgan Chase's recent climate report, informed by the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures, articulates the bank's current thinking on climate risks and opportunities, and promises further disclosure in subsequent reports. We look forward to disclosure and risk assessment that rises to the highest possible standard. But disclosure must lead to alignment. All banks, including JPMorgan Chase, are crucial to accomplishing the necessary transition from a fossil fuel to a renewable energy-based economy, through the rapid redeployment of the capital required to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.
In addition to creating reputational and stranded asset risk, climate change impacts a range of other sectors of the economy, thereby impacting the long-term performance of our broad investment portfolios. JPMorgan Chase’s contributions to climate change, and exposure to climate risk, are uniquely large. A recent report on global banks’ financing of the fossil fuel industry, Banking on Climate Change: Fossil Fuel Finance Report Card 2019, found that since the Paris Agreement was adopted:
-JPMorgan Chase has been the world’s biggest banker of fossil fuels overall, with financing of $196 billion, nearly 30% higher than the #2 bank.
-JPMorgan Chase has been the world’s biggest banker of 100 top companies expanding fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure, with financing nearly 70% higher than the #2 bank.
-JPMorgan Chase has been the world’s #1 biggest banker of Arctic oil and gas, ultra-deepwater oil and gas, and liquefied natural gas, the #2 banker of fracked oil and gas, and the #1 U.S. banker of tar sands and coal mining.
-JPMorgan Chase has supported projects and companies that raise concerns regarding human and Indigenous rights, including Indigenous peoples’ rights to their water and lands, and the right to free, prior and informed consent.
As investors, we are concerned about JPMorgan Chase’s approach to climate risk given these levels of fossil fuel financing, as well as the following issues:
-At last month’s House Financial Services Committee Hearing, you said that climate change does not pose a direct risk to the financial system, a statement contradicted by the 34 central banks and supervisors that comprise the Network for Greening the Financial System (especially the Bank of England), a senior figure at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Oliver Wyman, and others. Furthermore, all of your fellow chief executives giving testimony at the hearing acknowledged that this risk is real. We are concerned that your statement reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of the scope and magnitude of the climate crisis.
-In your lengthy annual letter to investors, including this year’s letter, with its substantive discussion on what you term “current critical issues,” you have never mentioned climate change, in spite of clear investor concern regarding the long term risks of failing to act on this issue.
-JPMorgan Chase’s current financing policies do not align with the goals of the Paris Agreement, which you claim to support. Policies aligned with the Paris Agreement must recognize that fossil fuel extraction and use must be rapidly ramped down, and therefore must contain appropriate financing restrictions, particularly on financing that facilitates the development of new reserves. Instead, the bank has effectively no restrictions on oil and gas financing, and its restrictions on coal are insufficient, as they continue to allow JPMorgan Chase to participate in new financing to the sector — in fact, the bank’s coal power financing has risen each of the past three years.
As we write, communities across the United States and around the globe are facing the devastating effects of climate change, in the form of wildfires, cyclones and hurricanes, droughts and floods. Indigenous people are disproportionately on the front lines of impacts from both climate change and fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure, and in the lead on resistance to both. Last year’s historic report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shows that while the effects of 1.5°C of warming are dire, 2°C of warming is vastly worse; keeping global warming below 1.5°C requires cutting carbon emissions by almost half by 2030, and to effectively zero by 2050 (in line with the scenario that does not rely on carbon capture and storage technology, which remains far from being proven at scale). Potential emissions from oil, gas and coal already in production take the world well beyond 2°C, necessitating a rapid phase out of existing fossil fuel infrastructure in the coming decades, with more immediate urgent attention given to the cessation of any expansion of fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure.
Investors therefore ask JPMorgan Chase to take the following action steps to ensure that the company’s financing is — as called for in the Paris Agreement — “consistent with a pathway toward low greenhouse gas emissions.” Specifically, we ask that: -The Board of Directors make a statement clarifying the company’s approach to climate change, including an affirmation of its support for limiting climate change to 1.5°C, recognition of the risks that climate change poses to the financial system, and articulation of the board’s oversight and accountability role in this area going forward.
-The bank put in place and disclose a plan to phase out fossil fuel financing on a timeline compatible with the above-mentioned emissions trajectory that the IPCC has found is necessary to limit climate change to 1.5°C, with priority given to the phase-out of financing for companies and projects focused on development of new fossil fuel reserves.
-The bank review its financing policies to ensure that they reflect the bank’s stated commitment to the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights to avoid future financing of projects and companies that fail to respect human and Indigenous rights, including Indigenous peoples’ rights to their water and lands, and the right to free, prior and informed consent. As shareholders in JPMorgan Chase, we look forward to your response on these issues in a timely fashion. We would welcome the opportunity to discuss our concerns with appropriate management and board members. Please direct your response to Holly Testa, Director of Shareowner Engagement at First Affirmative Financial Network (firstname.lastname@example.org, 303-641-5190). Signed,(will appear in alphabetical order) Holly A. Testa and Theresa GusmanDirector, Shareowner Engagement and Chief Investment OfficerFirst Affirmative Financial Network
Lauren CompereManaging DirectorBoston Common Asset Management
Allan PearceShareholder AdvocateTrillium Asset Management
Cc: [Other JPMorgan Chase decisionmakers TBD]