Shareholders Ask Wells Fargo Bank to Reduce Its Investments in Carbon Intensive Fossil Fuels

The bank’s continued investments in fossil fuel infrastructure creates climate harm and slows the urgent transition to a low-carbon economy


MEDIA CONTACT: Stefanie Spear, [email protected], 216-387-1609

Oakland, California—Nov. 15—Shareholder advocacy organization As You Sow filed a resolution Wednesday requesting that Wells Fargo adopt a policy to reduce its climate change contribution by aligning its loans and investments with the Paris goals of maintaining global temperature increases below 1.5 degrees Celsius. As noted by the latest IPCC report, “rapid, far-reaching” changes are necessary in the next decade to avoid disastrous levels of global warming.

“Every company must take responsibility for its contribution to climate change and banks are no exception,” said Danielle Fugere, president of As You Sow. “Banks’ financing choices play a major role in promoting climate transition. Every dollar Wells Fargo invests in new fossil fuel infrastructure locks in climate emissions over the next 30 to 40 years and takes us backward in the race to avoid climate catastrophe. This is especially true with regard to tar sands, coal, and Arctic oil projects.”

The resolution underscores shareholders concern about investments in high carbon, high risk coal, Arctic oil, and tar sands projects and companies. Not only are these investments carbon intensive, but banks with financial ties to such controversial projects face reputational damage, boycotts, divestment, and litigation that adversely affects shareholder value. Wells Fargo lost billions in deposits and banking business and suffered extensive reputational damage from its support of the Dakota Access Pipeline and other controversial oil and gas infrastructure projects.

Wells Fargo acknowledges that “... we all need to do our part to find solutions to the climate challenge.” But, between 2015 and 2017, Wells Fargo poured $4.6 billion into financing extreme fossil fuel projects, including tar sands pipelines — a total that has increased each of the past three years.

In contrast to Wells Fargo, many banks have adopted policies reducing carbon in their loan and investment portfolios, including reducing or avoiding investments in extreme fossil fuels. ING adopted a methodology to measure the carbon content of its portfolio and decrease the climate impact of its loans. BNP Paribas and Natixis are phasing out business with companies tied to Arctic drilling, oil sands, shale development, and coal. The World Bank committed to end upstream oil and gas financing. Over a dozen banks adopted policies to end or substantially reduce financing for Arctic oil and/or tar sands projects.

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As You Sow is a nonprofit organization that promotes environmental and social corporate responsibility through shareholder advocacy, coalition building, and innovative legal strategies. See our resolutions here.