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Opinion | Three Rockefellers Say Banks Must Stop Financing Fossil Fuels

JPMorgan Chase says it expects its clients to do what is necessary to help meet emissions goals of the Paris agreement. We, as clients of the bank, expect the bank to do the same.

Banks face intense competition for new generations of wealthy clients set to inherit huge sums from the world’s richest people — estimates range from $15 trillion to $68 trillion — and the future is clear: For the generations that will experience the worst impacts of climate change, it will be a simple decision to put their money in banks that profit from reducing warming and leave behind banks that continue to finance carbon-intensive energy.

To that end, we have started an organization, BankFWD. This network of individuals, businesses and foundations will use their banking choices and public standing to persuade major banks to phase out their financing of fossil fuels and lead on climate matters.

To earn the business of the future, banks must face climate reality. The prerequisite is a clear commitment to end support for fossil fuel companies that lack strategies to meet the goals of the Paris agreement. Yet to date, no major U.S. bank has made such a commitment: The podium remains wide open.

Our grandfather and great-uncle David Rockefeller spent 35 years at Chase Manhattan Bank — a predecessor of JPMorgan Chase — where he was chairman, chief executive officer and the bank’s largest single shareholder. He lived his life with a belief that business success and social responsibility go hand in hand. Like many in our generation today, we believe that service to humanity is the bedrock of profit.

Fossil fuels have been essential to the development of the modern world and its widespread, though unequal, prosperity. The next generation of innovators, working in low- and zero-carbon technologies and in high finance, will prosper from the greatest business and technological revolution in history.

Under the leadership of its current chairman and chief executive, Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan Chase became the United States’ most profitable bank. Yet short-term profitability alone is not equal to a transformational legacy. It is Mr. Dimon’s response to fossil fuels and the climate emergency that will determine his lasting reputation. Unlike businessmen of 100 years ago, leaders today cannot claim they didn’t know.

Daniel Growald, Peter Gill Case and Valerie Rockefeller are co-founders and co-chairs of BankFWD.

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