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The climate side of Jamie Dimon's annual letter

Photo Illustration of Jamie Dimon with ripped newspaper elements with stars, the Chase logo

Photo Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios. Photo: Cyril Marcilhacy/Bloomberg via Getty Images

What to make of Jamie Dimon's annual letter and its references to climate, infrastructure, and the energy transition?

State of play: The chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase delivers some real groaners: "public/private partnerships" and "public education" anyone? But there are also tangible takeaways.

Context: JPMorgan is the largest U.S. bank and among the world's biggest financiers of both fossil fuels and low-carbon energy.

  • The banking giant has frustrated Republican politicians for incorporating ESG principles and likewise frustrated environmental advocates for continuing to bankroll oil and gas projects.

The big picture: Dimon seems to be responding to some of the ESG backlash by emphasizing that his bank will begin "differentiating between aspirations we are actively striving toward and binding commitments."

  • It's a message to both GOP leaders and environmentalists: ESG principles are a guideline for the bank's loans and investments, not a restriction.

Meanwhile, Dimon's most direct comments on climate resemble a chatbot's answer for the five biggest cliches in climate-tech:

  • "Supportive government policy and leadership" such as the Inflation Reduction Act, public-private partnerships, public education efforts, workforce training, and "communication about concrete successes."

Yes, but: Dimon does call for investment in grid infrastructure to support the buildout of more low-carbon energy — that's a tangible policy and business goal.

  • And as our Generate colleague Ben Geman detailed this morning, Dimon also argues that natural gas — and U.S. exports of the fuel specifically — have a pivotal role to play economically, geopolitically, and environmentally.

Bottom line: BlackRock CEO Larry Fink last month called for "energy pragmatism" that balances natural gas with zero-carbon energy sources. Dimon is effectively doing the same — while, like Fink, warding off further Republican attacks.

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