JP Morgan – Financing Related to the Arctic and the Canadian Oil Sands (2020)

Outcome: 15.18%

Climate change is a global challenge that continues to gain widespread attention for its numerous, significant environmental and social impacts. Particular subsectors of fossil fuels, including Arctic and Canadian tar sands (also referred to as oil sands), have become hot button political issues, because of their particular impacts on the climate, the local environment, and Indigenous rights. Protests surrounding the Keystone XL and Line 3 pipelines and opposition to drilling in the Arctic are among the high-profile concerns. JPMorgan is reportedly the largest global lender and underwriter to the top 30 companies operating in Arctic oil and gas, and the top U.S. lender and underwriter to the top 34 tar sands companies, which has led to JPMorgan being the target of significant protests – often led by Indigenous peoples.
According to a poll conducted in 2017 by Yale and George Mason University, 70% of American voters oppose drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.[1] In September 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 225-193 to reinstate a ban on drilling the refuge. August 2019 reporting revealed that in reality, ANWR may not contain very much oil amid accusations that boosters in Washington are exaggerating the extent of the resource, thus supporting this activity is likely far riskier than previously thought.[2] Beyond ANWR, drilling anywhere in the Arctic threatens Indigenous rights and impacts a fragile ecosystem.
While JPMorgan has an enhanced due diligence process for transactions related to Arctic oil and gas, HSBC, BNP Paribas, and Société Générale have made commitments to restrict financing for oil and gas production in the Arctic.[3] For example, BNP Paribas prohibits all financing for all Arctic oil and gas projects, and commits to phase out some financing for and/or exclude some Arctic oil and gas companies.
Similarly, tar sands production and transport is becoming increasingly controversial and economically unviable, as multinational oil firms are rapidly exiting the industry. Recently, Kinder Morgan, ConocoPhillips, Devon, and Equinor have sold out of their oil sands projects.[4]
In August 2019, JPMorgan’s CEO Jaime Dimon led 180 other members of the Business Roundtable in expressing his commitment to deliver value to all of the company’s stakeholders. Specifically, he committed to delivering value to customers, employees, suppliers, communities, embracing sustainable practices across its businesses, and generating long-term value for shareholders.
Resolved: shareholders request that the Board of Directors issue a report (at reasonable expense, within a reasonable time, and omitting confidential or propriety information) describing how JPMorgan Chase plans to respond to rising reputational risks for the Company and questions about its role in society related to involvement in Canadian oil sands production, oil sands pipeline companies, and Arctic oil and gas exploration and production.
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