July 10, 2024

Warren, Senators Blast JPMorgan Chase for Reversal of Climate Commitments

CEO Jamie Dimon recently announced JPM’s shift from “binding commitments” to “aspirations” in response to the climate crisis. 

"This reversal represents a long-term threat to the environment—JPM has financed over $430 billion in fossil fuel projects since 2016, more than any other financial institution in the world…"

Text of Letter (PDF) 

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), and Peter Welch (D-Vt.) wrote to JPMorgan Chase (JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon, criticizing his company’s about-face on nearly two decades of climate and environmental commitments and raising questions about whether JPM has been misleading investors and the public. 

Over nearly two decades, JPM made several “binding commitments” on climate and environmental issues. In 2006, the company joined the Equator Principles, a set of bare minimum industry standards that help financial institutions address environmental, social, and governance risks in their work. JPM also committed to meeting the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement and the Climate Action 100+.

However, in an April 8, 2024 letter to shareholders, Dimon reversed those commitments, writing that JPM was going to use the word ‘commitment’ much more sparingly going forward, differentiating between “aspirations we are actively striving toward and binding commitments.” In the same letter, Mr. Dimon walked back JPM’s role in addressing the climate crisis and instead called for “proper government action … [that is] not there yet.” Mr. Dimon also shared that JPM had exited key commitments already, including Climate Action 100+ and the Equator Principles. 

“Surprisingly, as the CEO of the nation’s largest bank, you appear to have lost your faith in the private sector’s ability to solve problems,” wrote the senators.

Aside from the commitments JPM explicitly reversed, the company has always had a questionable record on environmental issues. The bank was the biggest financer of fossil fuel companies last year, sending nearly $15 billion to fossil fuel expansion. JPM also changed its emission reduction targets, initially set because of the bank’s commitment to the Paris Accords, making it impossible for investors to know if JPM is reducing its oil and gas financing because the new target represents a combination of financing to the oil, gas, and clean energy industries. Additionally, JPM has consistently used relative reduction targets instead of absolute targets for its portfolio-financed emissions, allowing the firm to claim progress on emissions even if JPM’s absolute financed emissions have increased.

“Your recent statements and actions indicate a retreat by JPM from the firm’s earlier pledges to help mitigate climate change. This is disappointing, raising questions about the impact of these policy changes moving forward, and about whether JPM misled investors and the public when you made these commitments,” concluded the senators. 

The lawmakers demanded that JPM provide answers about its climate and environmental commitments by July 24, 2024. 

"The recent backsliding on climate commitments, not only from JPMorgan Chase but from other Wall Street banks as well, underlines the need for regulators to take urgent action,” said Ernesto Archila, Climate and Financial Regulation Policy Director for Public Citizen. “Banks should be compelled to take a serious look at their financed emissions, and make effective and transparent plans to address the financial risks associated with climate change."

Senator Warren has long fought to push financial regulators to act on climate and climate financial risk:

  • In June 2024, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Chair of the Senate Banking Subcommittee on Economic Policy, and Representative Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee, led 36 lawmakers in a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) urging the SEC to remain focused on the risk that climate change poses to investors.
  • In May 2024, Senator Warren and Representatives Levin (D-Calif.) and Schiff (D-Calif.) sent a letter to the Federal Insurance Office (FIO) and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) urging them to ensure comprehensive and transparent data collection to understand and address the impact of climate change on property insurance premiums.
  • In April 2024, Senator Warren and Representatives Sean Casten (D-Ill.) and Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) led a letter to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Council urging them to finalize the Federal Supplier Climate Risks and Resilience Rule for federal contractors as quickly as possible.
  • In March 2024, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), released a statement describing the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) finalized climate risk disclosure rule as “the bare minimum.”
  • In January 2024, during a Senate Banking Committee hearing, Senator Warren called for the Biden Administration to swiftly finalize its data call about the effects of climate change on the insurance market – and to collect all the data necessary to understand our gaps in insurance coverage and the right regulatory response.
  • In September 2023, Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) sent a letter to Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen and newly-appointed Treasury Climate Counselor Ethan Zindler, urging the Treasury Department (Treasury) to take key actions pertaining to climate and climate-related financial risk to avert the impending environmental and economic crises.
  • In September 2023, at a hearing of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, Senator Warren urged Chair Gensler to quickly finalize a strong climate risk disclosure rule, reminding him that he has a mandate to protect investors and strong public support.
  • In September 2023, at a hearing of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, Senator Warren highlighted the recent withdrawals of major insurance companies from states that have a high and growing  risk of climate disasters, the impact of this insurance crisis on homeowners, and the need for increased transparency from insurance companies.
  • In September 2023, Senators Warren, Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), and Whitehouse sent a letter to Secretary Yellen and Federal Insurance Office (FIO) Director Steven Seitz calling on the FIO to finalize its proposal to collect data from major insurers to better assess the impact of climate change on insurance availability and affordability, including in communities that are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
  • In March 2023, Senators Warren, Whitehouse, and Markey sent a letter to Secretary Yellen following Climate Counselor John Morton’s departure and urging Treasury to take swift and aggressive action to tackle the climate crisis, which threatens our health, security, and financial system. 
  • In March 2023, Senators Warren, Whitehouse, and Representatives Dan Goldman (D-N.Y.) and Raskin and 47 of their colleagues sent a letter to SEC Chair  Gary Gensler, urging him to protect investors and finalize a strong climate disclosure rule without further delay.
  • In September 2022, at a hearing of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, Senator Warren called on SEC Chair Gary Gensler to protect investors and stand up to fossil fuel lobbying by issuing a strong climate risk disclosure rule quickly.
  • In June 2022, Senator Warren led a comment letter with Senators Whitehouse and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) on the SEC’s mandatory climate disclosure rule, highlighting several areas for improvement and key elements that the SEC should preserve in its final rule, including strong Scope 3 emissions disclosure requirements.
  • In March 2022, Senator Warren led a letter with Senators Whitehouse and Schatz urging the SEC to require disclosure of anti-climate lobbying activities in the Commission’s rule.
  • In February 2022, Senator Warren led a letter to the SEC about the delayed release of the SEC’s proposed climate change disclosure rule, urging them to act quickly to get a rule out.
  • In August 2021, Senators Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) sent a letter to John Morton – the first Climate Counselor at the new Climate Hub at the U.S. Department of the Treasury – urging swift and aggressive action to tackle the climate crisis, a major threat to the country’s health, security, and financial system.
  • In May 2021, Senator Warren and Congressman Andy Levin (D-Mich.) introduced the Buy Green Act to use the enormous breadth of U.S. federal procurement to help fight the climate crisis, spur innovation, and boost demand for American-made clean energy products at home and in the rapidly-growing markets for green products abroad.
  • In May 2021, Senator Warren and Congressman Levin introduced the National Institutes of Clean Energy Act of 2021, legislation that would invest $400 billion over the next ten years to establish and operate a new system of institutes at the Department of Energy dedicated to research and development (R&D) of advanced clean energy technologies.
  • In April 2021, Senator Warren and Representative Sean Casten (D-Ill.) reintroduced the Climate Risk Disclosure Act of 2021 which would reduce the chances of environmental and financial catastrophe by requiring public companies to disclose more information about their exposure to climate-related risks.
  • In March 2021, Senator Warren unveiled the BUILD GREEN Infrastructure and Jobs Act which would invest $500 billion over ten years in state, local, and tribal projects to jumpstart the transition to all electric public vehicles and rail and help modernize the nation's crumbling infrastructure.