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Ecosia Identifies Top Banks and Investors in Fossil Fuel Industries on Internet Search Results

Image Credit: Screenshot of Ecosia search results showing fossil fuel-labelled banks

Ecosia, a non-profit, has recently broadened its climate labelling system to encompass central banks, insurers, and investment corporations that invest heavily in high carbon energy by adding a 'fossil fuel' icon to their listing in the search engine's results.

To encourage its users to make more sustainable decisions, Ecosia has implemented a system since 2019 of placing a 'green leaf' icon next to search results they deem to be beneficial for the planet and a fossil fuel icon by organizations in searches that are said to support the growth of coal, oil, and gas extraction.

This week, listings of the major financial firms that back up enterprises included in the production, transportation, delivery, burning, exchange or storing of any type of electricity based on fossil fuels worldwide have been adorned with the fossil fuel symbol, according to the announcement.

Amongst the companies impacted financially, Ecosia claims 32 of the world's leading banking institutions, investors and insurers have put over $50 billion of funds into fossil fuel producers and emitters. This list involves big names such as Goldman Sachs, HSBC, Barclays, Bank of America and more.

Dr Ruben Korenke, product manager at Ecosia's green team, expressed his desire to help drive more banks away from their high-carbon clients by supplying the search engine's users with extra information regarding fossil fuel exposure of companies and financial firms.

"At Ecosia, we take the view that the public is provided with too little - if next to no - information about if and how their bank is financing and fuelling the climate crisis via direct funding for fossil fuel initiatives," he said. "We strongly believe that our users should have extended access to information which independently verifies a bank's climate impact and their stated net-zero ambitions versus their real-world climate impact, so they can take a personal view on who to bank with."

Ecosia's fossil fuel icon has been designed to identify financial firms associated with fossil fuel financing, which the non-profit Banking on Climate Chaos has compiled in a database. This database provides a comprehensive look into the policies and funding of more than 60 big banks concerning fossil fuels.

A consortium of environmental organizations, composed of Rainforest Action Network, Sierra Club, Urgewald, Reclaim Finance, Oil Change International, and the Indigenous Environmental Network, is responsible for preserving the database initiative.

Korenke added: "It's also our ambition to ensure that over time we can help push these big banks away from financing fossil fuel projects by making the wider world aware of just how toxic and damaging their behaviour has become - turning it into a reputational issue which will in the long-run detract from the profits available from this destructive industry."

Ecosia has recently taken another step in its effort to encourage more environment-friendly practices among its users. Recently, the Berlin-based company created a rail travel booking tool to allow people to plan journeys without needing to fly. This tool was launched last month.


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