New report: Pensions, Banks, and Fossil Fuels: How Our Money is Fueling the Climate Crisis and How to Stop it

Ahead of banks’ shareholder meetings, report maps financial pipeline between U.S. pension funds, banks, and fossil finance.

(TURTLE ISLAND LANDS / SO-CALLED UNITED STATES, UNCEDED ANCESTRAL HOMELANDS OF THOUSANDS OF INDIGENOUS TRIBES) — Today, a new report from and the Climate Safe Pensions Network reveals just 14 large U.S. public pension funds have almost $61 billion in assets invested in or with 60 of the largest commercial and investment banks. 

The report, Pensions, Banks, and Fossil Fuels: How Our Money is Fueling the Climate Crisis and How to Stop it,’’ maps out the money pipeline between pension funds, and the big 60 banks they work with that provided over $4.5 trillion in loans and underwriting to fossil fuel companies over the six years since the adoption of the UN Paris Agreement.

“Public pensions are meant to be the longest-term investors, yet they’re doing business with the very banks financing climate chaos,” said Amy Gray, Climate Finance Senior Strategist. “Pension funds must live up to their fiduciary duty, and protect pensioners and climate alike, by wielding their institutional investor power for climate resolutions at banks’ shareholder meetings this Spring.”

Since the launch of the fossil fuel divestment movement, a decade of data shows early adopters of divestment strategies report neutral or positive financial results. From increasing stranded risk to the cost of capital for fossil fuel projects doubling, material risks for fossil fuel corporations are proven long-term and structural.

Today’s report follows a December 2021 comprehensive report revealing that the same 14 US pension and permanent funds finance fossil fuels to the tune of $81.6 billion, bankrolling an outsized proportion of the coal, oil, and gas industry.

To date, over 1500 institutions representing more than $40 trillion in assets have committed to some level of divestment. Pensions makeup 11.8% of commitments, including notable divestment actions from Baltimore, Maryland, New York City and State, and the state of Maine. 


Don Lieber, Surgical Technician, CSPN “First Do No Harm” campaign said: “It’s beyond historic time that our pension funds divested from fossil fuels – should’a been done years ago – just as continued investments in tobacco became unjustifiable in the ’90s.  The severe, long-term and ubiquitous consequences of continued fossil fuel investments on global public health – the massive increase in toxic emissions from additional pipelines and infrastructure which those investments enable – can no longer be ignored.  Doctors, nurses, and health professionals know this more than anyone — do the right thing with your money, people.”

Sue Stafford, Mothers Out Front MA, said: “It makes no sense for our state pension funds to be investing in the very companies that are contributing to the climate emergency we’re all experiencing.  It’s fiduciarily irresponsible and morally reprehensible.  Our pension funds should use all feasible means to initiate a timely divestment from fossil fuel enterprises NOW!”
Jane Vosburg, Board President Fossil Free California, said: “With only eight years left to reduce carbon emissions by 50%, it is deplorable and fiduciarily irresponsible for pension funds to continue enabling the rogue fossil fuel industry. By doing so they  risk huge losses in stranded assets and ensure a catastrophic future for all living beings.”