The Net-Zero Banking Alliance told its 119 members on Monday they can continue to fund fossil fuel projects – even for coal — Bloomberg reports. The chief executives of the world’s biggest banks will also be largely absent from COP27 in Egypt this November. Essentially, the new guidelines allow major banks to continue to reap the reputational benefits of being able to say they are a member of the NZBA without needing to actually divest from any of the polluting industries causing the climate crisis.

In turn, the NZBA avoids the embarrassment of many of its most notable members following through on threats to leave the group en masse. (Some have already begun to quiet quit.)

The NZBA letter to its members — which include Deutsche Bank AG, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., UBS Group AG, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, and Bank of America, among others — came after the UN-backed Race to Zero campaign tightened requirements for its members’ decarbonization targets. It also set off calls for the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero – the world’s biggest zero-carbon finance club – to explain how its members will reach the net-zero targets to which they have committed.

“NZBA is saying it is part of GFANZ and that doesn’t have anything to do with Race to Zero. But to be part of GFANZ you need be part of Race to Zero,” said Ben Caldecott, head of the Oxford Sustainable Finance Programme. “Will GFANZ ditch this requirement and if it does, what are the new criteria to be part of GFANZ? And who marks that homework?” (Bloomberg $, Finance heads absent from COP27: E&E News)