For corporations like Microsoft, Alphabet, or Meta, greenhouse gas emissions double when financial investments are taken into account. Many digital corporations have set themselves climate protection goals in recent years and are striving to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and achieve climate neutrality in the future. So far, however, they have usually not taken into account the effects of their financial investments.
A report published by three environmental organizations entitled The Carbon Bankroll tries to estimate these emissions caused by financial investments. The results are particularly relevant for digital corporations because they have comparatively low emissions of their own.
According to the report, for Microsoft, Alphabet, or Meta, the greenhouse gas emissions of these companies roughly double when financial investments are taken into account. However, the report is partly based on estimates, since detailed information about the financial investments of the groups is not public.
The four big US banks -- JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Citi -- have invested a total of about $1.2 trillion in fossil fuel extraction since 2015, the year of the Paris climate accord, according to the report. According to the authors of the report, the companies that store their money there should feel jointly responsible for the resulting carbon dioxide emissions.
Financial investments are usually ignored in emissions accounting
The Greenhouse Gas Protocol of the organization World Resource Institute is often used for the carbon footprint of corporations. Emissions caused by financial investments are actually already included in the so-called Scope 3, but so far very few companies have taken this into account.
Of the companies mentioned in the report, only one - Salesforce - spoke directly. The analysis is welcomed there. Google's sustainability team declined to comment directly to author Bill McKibben, who wrote a lengthy article about the report for New Yorker magazine. According to McKibben, his representatives want to take a closer look at the report's figures.