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Is Your Money Funding the Creation of Polyester?

A recent report has found that 35 banks from across the globe have provided $2.7 trillion in lending and underwriting to the fossil fuel industry. This is the same industry that creates synthetic fibres that account for over two-thirds (69%) of the materials used in fast fashion worldwide. 

Key Takeaways: Funding Fossil, Failing the Planet

Back in 2015, 195 countries signed ‘The Paris Agreement’ — a legally binding international treaty on climate change — aiming toward a goal to limit global warming to well below 2°C, preferably to 1.5°C, compared to pre-industrial levels. However, a report now finds that banks from across the globe are sabotaging these efforts by financing the fossil fuel industries with USD 2.7 trillion since the Paris Agreement was adopted.

The report claims that big American banks are largely to blame for financing their cause, namely; JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citi, and Bank of America. 

Together, these four banks alone account for a staggering 30% of all fossil fuel financing from the 35 major global banks since the Paris Agreement was adopted.

Potential emissions from coal, oil, and gas already in production exhaust the carbon budget for 2°C, let alone 1.5°C, so any expansion of fossil extraction, or expansion of infrastructure that drives expanded extraction, is incompatible with the Paris Agreement.

What Does This Have to Do with Fashion?

The fashion industry makes a sizeable contribution to climate change; McKinsey reports that it is responsible for 2.1 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2018, which is about 4% of the global total. And by 2050 fashion is anticipated to be responsible for 25% of the world’s remaining carbon budget.

It is a lesser-known fact that the vast majority of fast fashion today is made from fossil fuels

Synthetic fibres are actually produced from heavily processed petrochemicals that come from finite resources such as crude oil and natural gas and account for over two-thirds (69%) of the material input for fast fashion worldwide. This is dominated by polyester, which is present in more than half (56%) of the textiles we use today.

Manufacturing synthetic fibres heavily rely on the extraction of fossil fuels, such as crude oil, gas, and potentially even coal. Apart from having a heavy carbon footprint, this is also inextricably linked with other significant environmental harms including oil spills, methane emissions, water and air pollution, impacts on human health – particularly for communities near extraction sites – wildlife disruption and biodiversity loss. 

The snowballing impact of both petroleum and polyester production processes have a detrimental effect on the environment. Listed below are the banks that fund fossil fuel industries:

Fossil Fuel Finance Report 2020
Fossil Fuel Finance Report 2020
(Images courtesy: Fossil Fuel Finance Report 2020)

Published by: Vibhuti Vazirani/ 2021-04-02

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