Worst Polluter in a Supporting Role Award

Sure, big emitters are bad. But what are they without the unsung villains that finance, advocate and conduct the behind-the-scenes work that allows them to pump out pollutants?

Nothing! Is what we say. With this award, we want to pay homage to these supporting polluters as they pull the strings that fuel climate and environmental disaster. We want you to be visible.

Our Nominees

JP Morgan Chase

Source: Wikipedia Commons

In the 4 years since the Paris Agreement in 2015, over $1.9 trillion worth of finance was provided by banks for fossil fuel projects. And no single bank has provided more than JP Morgan Chase, who put up $195 billion worth of fossil fuel finance over this period. Their shameful investments include: being the leading global banker of Ultradeepwater Oil and Gas, Liquified Natural Gas (LNG), the #2 banker of Fracking, and the #3 banker of The Canadian Tar Sands

Within the UK, JP Morgan Chase have been keen to expand the fracking of shale gas, and no doubt their presence during a 2018 roundtable on shale gas – attended by the then government Minister Claire Perry – played a key role in the subsequent relaxation of regulations around fracking. JP Morgan Chase have been located in Glasgow since 1999, and plan to build new Argyle Street offices within Glasgow’s International Finance district, a decision welcomed by both Nicola Sturgeon and the leader of Glasgow City Council, Susan Aitken. For all these reasons and more, we feel JP Morgan Chase are well positioned to challenge for the ‘Worst Polluter in a Supporting Role’ Award.

Oil and Gas UK (OGUK)

A 2017 Influence Map report places OGUK at the forefront of corporate networking for the oil and gas industry, arguing for a ‘lighter tax burden’ for this already under-taxed sector. At least internally, OGUK remains pretty open about this. In their 2019 membership pack, Deirdre Michie, CEO of OGUK proclaimed that OGUK ‘…stand up for the issues that matter to your business by engaging with governments, regulators, and the media’. Indeed, further on in the membership pack (pg7) they advertise that their engagement with the UK Government led to tax revisions, saving the sector over £100m a year.

Nicola Sturgeon next to OGUK’s CEO Deridre Michie (left). Source: Flickr

 

We’re surprised that this laissez-faire regime (and OGUK’s role) hasn’t received more media coverage, although intrepid organisations such as Scot.e3 have highlighted the laxity of the regulatory framework for oil and gas. But when there is media coverage, who steps up to defend the current set up? Why OGUK no less! Fancy that! When planned North Sea investments are called out for breaching climate targets, up steps OGUK’s Mike Tholen to defend the sector. When Greenpeace occupy climate-wrecking BP infrastructure, OGUK’s Gareth Wynn bravely steps forward to defend our ‘need’ for the sector. When an employment lawyer comments on the general stripping back of employment rights in the sector, here’s OGUK’s Alix Thorn to proclaim that they don’t ‘recognise those claims’. If anything, we’re rather impressed by their efforts, since in every report a different OGUK employee seems to be shilling for the industry. Clearly the work pays the bills and then some. Maybe it will even allow them to claim our coveted ‘Worst Polluter in a Supporting Role’ Award!

 

Strathclyde Pension Fund

The Glasgow City Council controlled Strathclyde Pension Fund is the second biggest local authority pension fund in the UK. It also happens to have £700 million invested in Fossil Fuel companies. To sift through some of Strathclyde Pension Fund’s investments is to read a roll call of the world’s worst actors, many of which feature elsewhere in our pollution awards. Amongst others, the Strathclyde Pension Fund invests in: ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, Rio Tinto, Occidental Petroleum, Sumitomo Coal and Eni. But honestly, the list goes on. A recent addition was BP, which makes Glasgow City Council’s declaration of a climate emergency all the more hollow.

Teekay Shipping

You would be forgiven for never having heard of Teekay Shipping. You would also be forgiven for having missed their glitzy PR output. But in the world of oil and gas shipping, Teekay are serious players. And they use Glasgow as one of their most important bases of operation. According to industry magazine Tanker Operator (you would also be forgiven for having not read this), Teekay Shipping are the world’s 8th biggest oil and gas shipping firm, and their Glasgow base also happens to be next door to venue where the 2021’s UN Conference of Parties will be held!

Teekay Shipping’s Glasgow office specialises in coordinating the shipping of Liquified Natural Gas (LNG), which is a process whereby gas is cooled down to a liquified temperature, reducing its volume, which allows greater sums to be transported via ships. LNG is an important battle point for climate justice, with industry advocates oxymoronically branding it as a ‘clean’ fossil fuel. But rather than supplanting fossil fuels, LNG is a mere supplement, with LNG helping facilitate a rise in emissions. Teekay Shipping transports LNG from some of the most repressive and exploited regions of the world, including: Angola, the Russian Arctic, and West Papua. 


Whilst Teekay use their Glasgow base to coordinate ships, none of their ships were built in Glasgow. Indeed, it will probably come as no surprise that Teekay are headquartered in Bermuda, and the vast majority of their LNG ships are registered in the Bahamas. So whilst they operate out of Glasgow, we presume very little of their ill-gotten profits stays here.

 

Barclays

Simply put, Barclays have a woeful record on addressing climate change, investing a disgraceful $85bn in fossil fuel projects since the Paris agreement in 2015 – making them Europe’s biggest institutional financer of fossil fuels. To give but a few examples, Barclays have financed the Cerrejón coal mine in Colombia, the Keystone XL pipeline in Canada and deep Arctic drilling.  In October 2020, they were found to have financed $24.6 billion worth of fossil fuel projects, an increase of $200 million from the previous year, showing the emptiness of their so-called “Net-Zero” commitments. As is customary for corporations keen to deflect from their atrocious practices, Barclays funnel money into cultivating a positive image in the public imagination. To wit, they sponsor two massively popular institutions: the English Premier League and Pride. Needless to say, the hypocrisy of the latter has been pointed out.

Musician Neil Young used his platform to support the Boycott Barclays Campaign. Credit: Neil Young News

As we document on our Polluter Watch page, Barclays’ have a worryingly close relationship with the UK Government. But they are not simply bedfellows with the chronically amoral Tory Government, as the Scotish government are happy to cheer on the development of a new base in Glasgow. This £400million development is the main attraction of a new finance/investment district called Buchanan Wharf, on the Tradeston side of the River Clyde – which is also well worth checking out if you appreciate soulless corporate spaces. Following on from the Glasgow International Finance District, it continues Glasgow’s journey towards becoming captured by  global finance capital.

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