Big banks are pumping billions into new oil and gas production despite net zero pledges, campaigners have said.

Banks including HSBC, Barclays and Deutsche Bank are still backing new oil and gas despite being part of a green banking group, ShareAction said.

Investors should force banks to demand green plans from fossil fuel firms before funding them, it said.

HSBC and Barclays said they were focused on achieving environmental goals.

“Net zero” means not adding to greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere by cutting and trying to balance out emissions.

If the Earth is to avoid damaging environmental effects, including more extreme weather, it needs to limit average global warming to below 1.5 degrees centigrade.

To achieve this, we need to get to net zero by 2050, experts have said.

As part of getting to net zero, the International Energy Agency has said there should be no new oil and natural gas fields .

But big banks are continuing to fund oil and gas expansion with billions of dollars, ShareAction said, despite being part of a UN-led group called the Net Zero Banking Alliance.

HSBC put an estimated $8.7bn (£6.4bn) into new oil and gas in 2021, while Barclays put in $4.5bn, and Deutsche Bank loaned $5.7bn, the campaign group estimated.

The fossil fuel giants receiving the funding included Exxon Mobil, Shell, BP, and Saudi Aramco.

This is a big drop from 2020, when HSBC alone pumped more than $18bn into new oil and gas, and there were big drops in funding across the board between 2020 and 2021, according to figures from consultancy Profundo.

ShareAction said this was due to banks focussing on providing pandemic-related loans to keep fossil fuel firms afloat during the pandemic, and that in 2021 funding returned to pre-pandemic levels.

Since joining the Net Zero Banking Alliance last year, 24 big banks have provided $33bn for new oil and gas projects, with more than half of that amount ($19bn) coming from four of the founding members – HSBC, Barclays, BNP Paribas and Deutsche Bank, the campaigners said.

ShareAction urged big investors to demand that banks restrict finance for oil and gas expansion, saying funding new oil and gas is a lose-lose for banks and investors.

Xavier Lerin, ShareAction senior research manager, said: “If oil and gas demand decreases in line with 1.5C scenarios, prices will fall and assets will become stranded.

“On the other hand, if demand does not fall enough to limit global warming to 1.5C, the economy will suffer from severe physical climate impacts.

“Either way, value will be destroyed for energy companies, banks and their investors.”

The campaign group added: “Banks say that they want to help their clients to transition away from fossil fuels, but there is little evidence for this claim.”

“Most banks – HSBC included – are not demanding transition plans from clients, raising doubts about their commitment to this transition,” it added.