Six major banks will be investigated by 19 state attorneys general for adhering to a United Nations’ organizational goal of eliminating carbon emissions by 2050.
Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo were served civil investigative demands seeking documents related to membership in the Net-Zero Banking Alliance (NZBA). However, three other U.S. banks listed as members of the NZBA – Amalgamated Bank, Blue Ridge Bank, Climate First Bank – were not mentioned in the media release as being served in the investigation.
Arizona, Kentucky, Missouri and Texas are leading the investigation. Other states in the investigation are Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Virginia. Five other states have joined but can’t be named due to state laws or regulations regarding confidentiality.
The attorneys general in the states where the six banks are based – California, New York and North Carolina – weren’t named as being part of the investigation.
It’s the third investigation by Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton with regard to “deceptive trade practices tied to Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) related actions,” according to a media release. The petroleum and natural gas industry was 22% or $344 billion of the Texas economy last year, according to a Texas Oil and Gas Association report, and paid $15.8 billion in taxes.
“The radical climate change movement has been waging an all-out war against American energy for years, and the last thing Americans need right now are corporate activists helping the left bankrupt our fossil fuel industry,” Paxton said in a statement. “If the largest banks in the world think they can get away with lying to consumers or taking any other illegal action designed to target a vital American industry like energy, they’re dead wrong. This investigation is just getting started, and we won’t stop until we get to the truth.”
The NZBA states its 119 banks in 41 countries represent approximately 40% of global banking assets.
“These banks appear to be colluding with the U.N. to destroy American companies that specialize in fossil fuels or otherwise depend on them for energy,” Republican Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita said in a statement. “They are pushing an investment strategy designed not to maximize financial returns but to impose a leftist social and economic agenda that cannot otherwise be implemented through the ballot box.”
The NZBA was praised as “the boldest, most promising initiative yet from the private sector to align financial markets – and by extension, much of the global economy – with the climate targets identified in the Paris Agreement,” Trevor Sutton of America Progress wrote last year.
“Regardless of how the NZBA pans out, the fact remains that there is no solution to the climate crisis that does not address the role of private capital, and any good faith effort by private-sector actors to facilitate decarbonization should be greeted with cautious optimism,” Sutton said.
Republican Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, who is running against Democrat Trudy Busch Valentine for the seat of retiring Republican U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt in November, previously started an ESG civil investigation of Morningstar and Sustainalytics regarding an anti-Israel bias.
“We are leading a coalition investigating banks for ceding authority to the U.N., which will only result in the killing of American companies that don’t subscribe to the woke, climate agenda,” Schmitt said in a release. “These banks are accountable to American laws – we don’t let international bodies set the standards for our businesses.”
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