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Elizabeth Warren Claims Finance is an Enormous Greenhouse Gas Emitter

"Greenhouse Gas Emitted by the Financial-Services Industry is Outrageous," says Warren
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Nonsensical Claim of the Month

Wall Street Is Close to Triggering a Climate Financial Crisis

Warren's nonsensical Tweet parrots the nonsensical Bloomberg article Wall Street Is Close to Triggering a Climate Financial Crisis

A study authored by the Sierra Club and the Center for American Progress shows that eight of the biggest U.S. banks and 10 of its largest asset managers combined to finance an estimated 2 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions, based on year-end disclosures from 2020, or about 1% less than what Russia produced.

If the financial-services industry was a country, it would rank as the world’s fifth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases.

The report’s authors are urging the Biden administration to take immediate steps to slash the financial sector’s role in global warming, lest it trigger a financial crisis that dwarfs that of 2008.

Wall Street's Carbon Bubble

The study is called Wall Street's Carbon Bubble.

The Sierra Club and the Center for American Progress (CAP) want the SEC to take these actions.

  • Require all financial institutions disclose all emissions embedded in their portfolios and attributable to businesses for whom they provide services.
  • Ensure that investment fiduciaries keep their commitments to clients and the public, including those related to how they invest and vote their shares.
  • Incorporate climate risk into the supervisory ratings they assign to banks.
  • Administer climate-related stress tests to identify the banks’ potential losses from climate change (Moody’s Investors Service estimates that banks globally have $22 trillion of exposure to carbon-intensive industries).
  • Require that banks fund riskier investments with more equity capital and less debt.
  • Implement climate-risk surcharges on “global systemically important banks.”
  • Adjust deposit insurance premiums to reflect climate-related risks.
  • Proactively address racial and economic justice issues that intersect with such climate-risk related reforms.

In short, the Sierra Club and CAP claim that financing companies is the exact same thing as creating emissions

Taking Aim 

The report took aim at these banks.

1. Bank of America 2. Bank of New York Mellon Corp. (BNY Mellon) 3. Citigroup 4. Goldman Sachs 5. JPMorgan Chase 6. Morgan Stanley 7. State Street 8. Wells Fargo.

It also took aim at  asset managers: 1. Bank of New York Mellon Investment Management 2. BlackRock 3. Capital Group 4. Fidelity Investments 5. Goldman Sachs Asset Management 6. JP Morgan Asset Management 7. Morgan Stanley Investment Management 8. PIMCO 9. State Street Global Advisors 10. The Vanguard Group.

The Approach

Normal Approach

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Asset Turnover Ratio - Really?!

Allegedly, the mere buying and selling of securities causes huge emissions. 

The authors themselves hint at how absurd this all is as evidenced by these notes.

  • It is worth noting that this level of estimation has several limitations, including that it assumes similar positions and spreads as that of the sample for the strategies managed for which no data are available. 
  • it is worth noting that the approach taken by this analysis differs from prior efforts to calculate financed emissions of banks or asset managers. This is due to the scope of the assessment, which does not focus only on carbon-intensive sectors but expands across several asset classes, geographies, and industries beyond those related to fossil fuels. As a result, the level of granularity of the calculations and values differ from previous efforts and is more holistic in nature.

Real Estate Too?!

The real estate calculation factored in the outstanding amount, estimated building energy consumption per square meter (m2 ),  estimated area financed in m2 based on the average dwelling type, and standard emission factors specific to the energy source.

Blame Wall Street

Let's blame Wall Street for lending to Ford, GM, Toyota, financing real estate, and even mortgage lending!

Warren's Tweet was so nonsensical I had dive into the Bloomberg article and then the report to see how the authors arrived at such a preposterous claim.  

The study is pure lunacy by any reasonable measure except one: These climate fear mongers need to distort every imaginable statistic so that every conclusion meets the goals they wish to force on the world.

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