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JPMorgan Chase drops out of massive UN climate alliance in stunning move

JPMorgan Chase confirmed Thursday that it is exiting the world's largest climate alliance which seeks to push investors away from funding the fossil fuel sector.

JPMorgan Chase announced Thursday that it is quitting a massive United Nations climate alliance formed to combat global warming through corporate sustainability agreements.

The New York City-based bank explained that it would exit the so-called Climate Action 100+ investor group because of the expansion of its in-house sustainability team and the establishment of its climate risk framework in recent years. JPMorgan Chase's stunning announcement, however, comes as it and other financial institutions face an onslaught of pressure from consumer advocates and Republican states over their environmental, social and governance (ESG) priorities.

"The firm has built a team of 40 dedicated sustainable investing professionals, including investment stewardship specialists who also leverage one of the largest buy side research teams in the industry," the bank said in a statement shared with FOX Business. "Given these strengths and the evolution of its own stewardship capabilities, JPMAM has determined that it will no longer participate in Climate Action 100+ engagements."

Climate Action 100+ was formally established in December 2017 at the U.N. as a way of aligning the world's largest private sector financiers of greenhouse gas producers. Since the association was created, it has grown to include more than 700 financial institutions which are collectively responsible for a staggering $68 trillion in assets under management.

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The group — which is overseen by a nongovernmental steering committee comprised of ESG activists — calls for members to engage companies on "improving climate change governance," curbing carbon emissions and strengthening climate-related financial disclosure policies. Its actions have largely taken aim at investments benefiting the oil and gas industry, while boosting green energy investment strategies.

"More than 700 investors are committed to managing climate risk and preserving shareholder value through their participation in the initiative," a spokesperson for Climate Action 100+ told FOX Business, confirming JPMorgan Chase's departure. "Since its inception, Climate Action 100+ has experienced remarkable growth — and that has only continued."

"The initiative has recently entered its second phase, which offers more ways investor signatories can participate," the spokesperson continued. "Last Autumn alone, more than 60 new signatories joined, and we expect interest to continue growing."

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Climate Action 100+, in addition to other global climate alliances and investor networks, has drawn the ire of Republican states and lawmakers who have argued their activities may infringe on government policymaking. They have also warned such associations are harming domestic energy companies which employ thousands of Americans and ensure low consumer prices.

In June, House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, issued a subpoena to Ceres, a nonprofit advocacy organization that helps to oversee Climate Action 100+, alleging the group may be facilitating collusion through its climate-focused initiatives in violation of U.S. antitrust law.

"Corporations are collectively adopting and imposing progressive environmental, social, and governance-related goals, and Ceres appears to facilitate collusion through Climate Action 100+ that may violate U.S. antitrust law," Jordan wrote to Ceres counsel Matthew Miller. 

"To advance our oversight and inform potential legislation related to collusive ESG policies, the Committee must understand how and to what extent Ceres and Climate Action 100+ facilitate collusion to promote ESG-related goals."

Additionally, state attorneys general, financial officers and agriculture commissioners have banded together in recent months to threaten legal action related to banks' involvement in climate alliances.

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