AMSTERDAM - Dutch banks ING and ABN AMRO have helped fossil fuel companies in issuing bonds totaling more than 100 billion euros since the Paris Climate Agreement was reached in 2015. This was revealed on Tuesday by an investigation conducted by research platforms and Follow the Money.
The investigation was conducted in collaboration with ten other international media outlets, including The Guardian, Le Monde, and El País. Together, they scrutinized 1,666 bonds from fossil fuel companies for a total value of over 1,000 billion euros.
The research platforms explained that over recent years, many European and American banks have committed to reducing investments in fossil fuels and some have even pledged to halt direct financing of new oil and gas projects. However, the researchers found that the total value of bonds issued annually for fossil sectors has only grown since the Paris Agreement's inception in late 2015.
“While there is currently a lot of political attention for fossil government subsidies, European banks also appear to be in little hurry to green their activities,” the researchers noted.
Regarding the two Dutch banks, the 100 billion euros in bonds primarily concern companies exploring new gas and oil fields or expanding their fossil-related operations.
Last year, ING declared its intention to stop financing new oil and gas fields. However, the bank has since participated in 10 bond issuances from American and Norwegian companies that are delving into new oil and gas reserves, the investigation revealed.
In a response, ING clarified that this new policy only concerns “project financing.” ING will not support companies raising funds specifically to establish a new oil or gas field. However, if those companies seek funding for general purposes, ING remains open to help.
While ABN Amro did not commit to refraining from financing new oil and gas fields, they did assert that since 2018, they have ceased financing fossil fuel activities in the Arctic. However, the investigation revealed that in 2021, the bank played a role in bond issuance by the Norwegian oil firm Aker BP, which announced this year that it wanted to expand its activities in the Arctic Barents Sea.
In response to these findings, ABN Amro mentioned that they occasionally make exceptions to their policy, evaluating each situation "on a case-by-case basis" and "under specific conditions."