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Jamie Dimon ‘doesn't understand the risk’ of climate change: Greenpeace International executive director

Greenpeace is calling out one of the biggest names in banking, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, and what it calls the bank’s lack of action in battling climate change.

In a new report, the international advocacy group calls JPMorgan Chase (JPM) “the world’s worst funder of fossil fuels and fossil fuel expansion.” And Greenpeace International Executive Director Jennifer Morgan cites Dimon personally for helping perpetuate the crisis.

“It's pretty clear from congressional testimony and other things that he doesn't understand the risk,” Morgan told Yahoo Finance at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “You can say maybe they didn't know the risk, but now they know the risks of climate change, and they continue to invest in the thing that's causing climate change.”

In 2015, JPMorgan Chase joined six other banks in committing “significant resources toward financing climate solutions.” 

However, according to data compiled by BankTrack for Greenpeace, JPMorgan Chase has provided more than $195 billion in financial support for the fossil fuel industry since the Paris agreement was signed in 2015. That’s the most of any major bank, dwarfing Citigroup (C), Bank of America (BAC) and Morgan Stanley (MS). All told, Greenpeace says 24 major global banks have poured $1.4 trillion in financial support into the fossil fuel industry between 2015 and 2018.

PARK AVENUE, NEW YORK - 04/10/2019: As CEO Jamie Dimon testified in front of the House Financial Services Committee Hearing, a large coalition of activists and community leaders rallied across the country in a national day of action holding the worlds worst funder of fossil fuels, JPMorgan Chase, accountable for its financing practices. In New York City, activists unfurled a giant banner in Park Avenue across JP Morgan Chase headquarters. (Photo by Erik McGregor/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

In his testimony before the House Financial Services Committee in April, Dimon called climate change “real,” and pressed for “taking action immediately to do something about it." But he pushed back on the financial sector’s role.

“If you want to fix this problem, you are going to have to do something,” he told House members, insisting his bank is working with fossil fuel companies to promote clean energy.

“If you look at the role of the financial sector, it's played as big of a role in creating climate chaos as the fossil fuel industry,” Morgan told Brian Sozzi and Julia La Roche. “Obviously, they say nice things, but their investments are going in completely the wrong direction.”

Last week, Blackrock (BLK) CEO Larry Fink outlined plans to make climate change a key priority in its investing strategy, exiting from “high sustainability-related risks” like coal and fossil fuels. 

“Climate change has become a defining factor in companies’ long-term prospects,” Fink wrote. “I believe we are on the edge of a fundamental reshaping of finance.”

Morgan calls that a good move by Fink, but says he needs to do more.

“I think it's good that there's been a recognition finally, by BlackRock that this is a fundamental issue, it's a material risk issue,” Morgan said. “I think the other key piece is to get the regulation in place. And so I would like to see Mr. Fink out there testifying to get regulation in place of this sector.”

As for the rest of the banking and finance industry, she says business needs to take climate change much more seriously before it’s too late.

“We won't have profit, we won't have a GDP, if we don't start actually challenging and incorporating the fact that climate change is a material risk in all of this. And then we have to move away from this idea of eternal growth,” Morgan said. “We actually need to bring in more things about health, well being. And right now, no, I don't see it as integrated fully into their businesses. I see lots of statements. But let's see where the money goes.”

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