The world's biggest fossil fuel funder — JPMorgan Chase — has noted in an internal report leaked to Extinction Rebellion that the company "cannot rule out catastrophic outcomes where human life as we know it is threatened."
Fossil fuel could cause "catastrophic outcomes"
Known throughout the world simply as Chase Bank — the single biggest fossil fuel funder in the world — the company's leaked internal report cites a wealth of literature on the subject of climate change. Most of the science inside the report is not shocking to the casual reader, but the analysis is most concerned about the "tail risks" of climate change.
These are the less likely, but possible catastrophic outcomes of the ongoing climate crisis that drive economists and scientists to insomnia.
These include possibilities like the sudden collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet, which would send sea levels more than 10 feet higher than current levels and displace millions of humans. Another worst-case scenario is a feedback loop wherein melting permafrost sends more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, causing more warming, and in turn more thawing of ice sheets, and more carbon emissions, and so on.
Of course, these are already happening, but to a lesser extent than the worst projections. The real danger behind the motivation for this internal report lies in the possibility that the Earth's climate could reach a tipping point, beyond which everything bad kicks into overdrive, forcing the human race to play catch-up to a sudden series of chaotic events that would dwarf everything modern civilization has ever faced before.
"Although precise predictions are not possible, it is clear that the earth is on an unsustainable trajectory," wrote the JPMorgan Chase analysts in the internal report. "Something will have to change at some point if the human race is going to survive."
The fight to reverse climate change begins at the bottom
Many believe the emergence of the internal report should serve as proof convincing enough for world leaders to take collective and decisive action. The report argues that a global price on carbon is the single most effective climate policy the world's leaders could pursue. However, many world governments are instead approving even more fossil fuel development, which could make the global situation even worse for future generations.
However, the report doesn't mention other banks, or even JP Morgan itself, even though these institutions are often the ones blamed in enabling this crisis, according to a Gizmodo report.
"Changes are occurring at the micro level, involving shifts in behavior by individuals, companies and investors," says the Extinction Rebellion report. It goes on to suggest that these micro-level changes "will push emissions in the right direction," but says nothing about government oversight, or actions that many believe is necessary to reverse the current course of the climate crisis.
Scientists predicted this report
This kind of admission from a major corporation is in line with a scenario that scientists considered in the past, wherein the world waits too long to pool its full resources in combating climate change, sending the greatest powers of the world — including major banks — into a more fractured, vulnerable state. A spokesperson for JPMorgan Chase told the BBC that the analysts who wrote the report were "wholly independent from the company as a whole, and not a commentary on it," which means Chase Bank denies this leak as an official position.
However, this may not last. Activists have increased their pressure on JPMorgan Chase and other banks to stop funding fossil fuel since it seems to be the cause of a radical shift in our biosphere. The report even confirms this, stating that public pressure to take action on climate change has "changed rapidly," to some success.
However, at the risk of committing a tautology: a job half-done is still a job left unfinished. Especially when the stakes against fossil fuel are human survival.