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Protesters at a 2017 rally against fossil fuel investments.EXPAND
Protesters at a 2017 rally against fossil fuel investments.

JPMorgan Chase, Top Fossil Fuel Funder, Invests in Climate-Resilient Housing in Florida

Over the past three years, JPMorgan Chase has been the top financier of fossil fuels. The company has financed nearly $196 billion for fossil fuel producers since world leaders promised to cut carbon emissions in the Paris Agreement. The bank is the largest investor in Arctic oil and gas, ultradeep oil and gas, and liquefied natural gas and is a major player in fracking. Of the 33 largest banks in the world, JPMorgan Chase accounts for 10 percent of all fossil fuel financing.

Nevertheless, the company yesterday prided itself on a comparatively tiny $5 million investment in sustainable, energy-efficient housing in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties over the next three years. The bank is investing in the South Florida Housing Link Collaborative, a group of five local nonprofits, to build climate-resilient housing in "low- to moderate-income neighborhoods" near transit stations along the Florida East Coast Railway.

"These communities are facing many challenges due to the lack of resources, rapidly increasing property values, and urban flooding," Mel Martinez, chairman of Southeast U.S. and Latin American affairs for JPMorgan Chase, said in a media statement. "These investments will help keep housing affordable and reduce energy costs for hundreds of residents, while also protecting their property from natural disasters."

Climate-resilient and affordable housing is a necessity in a city such as Miami, where rent prices have been skyrocketing and forcing longtime residents out of their homes. Climate gentrification in places such as Little Haiti has changed the very makeup of the neighborhood. But the bank's supposed altruism is overshadowed by its long history of investments that have harmed the environment.

On its website
, JPMorgan Chase claims it is increasing its "focus on alternative and renewable energy," but the bank is still investing in fossil fuel companies that are major players in human-caused climate change. According to a Sierra Club report released earlier this year, JPMorgan Chase "is by far the worst banker of fossil fuels and fossil fuel expansion — and therefore the world's worst banker of climate change."

The authors of that report wrote:

JPMorgan’s volume of finance for fossil fuels 2016-2018 is a shocking 29% higher than the second placed bank, Wells Fargo. The bank stands out even more from its peers in its volume of financing for the top companies expanding fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure: since the Paris climate agreement, JPMorgan Chase's $67 billion in finance for the expanders is fully 68% higher than that of Citi, in distant second place.

The company's clean investments pale in comparison. In 14 years, from 2003 to 2017, the bank put $18 billion toward renewable energy projects involving wind, solar, and geothermal power.

With the bank's recent $5 million investment, the South Florida Housing Link Collaborative plans to build 150 affordable rental units, acquire and retrofit an additional 150 rental units with energy-efficient and climate-resilient upgrades, and provide 200 loans to homeowners eager to update their homes in a similar manner. The Solar and Energy Loan Fund (SELF), a micro-lending organization, will be one of the beneficiaries of JPMorgan Chase's grant.

"We provide small loans to help people rehab their homes so that they are more sustainable and climate-resilient," says Duanne Andrade, chief financial officer at SELF. The average loan is $8,500, and homeowners can use the funds to retrofit their homes with upgrades such as energy-efficient A/C units, fortified roofs, and hurricane windows or shutters. She says the interest rates on the loans vary between 5 and 9.75 percent. 

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