Nov 202015

I’ve just returned from this year’s United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights, where some 2,300 representatives of business, government and civil society met on the shores of Lake Geneva, in eerily spring-like November weather.

The Forum is intended to take stock of the challenges and ways forward in putting into practice the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. One thing we considered a major challenge when it comes to the banking sector is its lack of progress on providing access to remedy for those affected by human rights impacts – so we were pleased to see a panel discussion on “providing access to effective remedy in the financial sector” on the Forum’s main agenda.

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Nov 092015

By Johan Frijns, BankTrack Director, 9 November 2015

With just 21 days left until the start of the Paris Climate Summit (COP21), there is still time for banks to make a strong commitment to do their part in stopping climate change; by publicly pledging before ‘Paris’ to stop financing the coal industry.

Banks that make this ‘Paris Pledge’ to abandon coal will help ensure that ‘Paris’ will indeed be the watershed event we need it to be in the global fight to combat climate change. After all, while the negotiations in Paris will focus solely on reaching emission reduction targets, the tailpipe approach, the real challenge is at the wellhead; how do we keep at least 80 percent of all currently known fossil fuel reserves in the ground, starting with coal?

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Oct 022015
By Greig Aitken, BankTrack, 2 October 2015

With just two months to go now before the United Nations climate summit in Paris, the warnings about the consequences of climate inaction are coming thick and fast.

Stepping up this week has been Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, with tough talk on how climate change will lead to financial crises and falling living standards – that is unless the world’s leading countries do more to ensure that their companies come clean about their current and future carbon emissions.”

What almost every major country has been doing in the run-up to Paris is submitting their pledges to reduce carbon emissions, the so-called ‘intended nationally determined contributions’. As the Climate Progress website has reported this week, the pledged CO2 reductions – including from the US, the European Union and China – have delivered something on paper at least. Growing realism, however, about where even a ‘successful’ Paris agreement will likely leave us is summed up thus by Climate Progress:

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Sep 092015
By Yann Louvel and Greig Aitken, BankTrack, 9 September 2015

We’ve just published the latest additions to our series of coal bank briefings, and it’s a triple whammy of information assessing the coal finance and associated policies of the UK’s three biggest banks: Barclays, HSBC and RBS.

The three also happen to be the UK’s top three coal banks, having coughed up a combined total of more than £30 billion for the most climate-damaging fossil fuel sector between 2005 and April 2014. The new briefings focus on each bank’s policy approach to coal mining and coal power finance, and describe a variety of legacy investments to the coal industry that are still looming large with damaging impacts for the environment, the climate and local communities. Continue reading »

Aug 252015
By Catalina von Hildebrand and Christine Voet, 25 August 2015

Last weekend two of us from the BankTrack team participated at Ende Gelände, a mass civil disobedience action in Germany’s Rhineland at the RWE-owned Garzweiler open cast lignite mine, and joined with activists from across Europe and beyond. We set out to promote our Paris Pledge campaign aimed at getting the world’s banks to end their financing of the coal industry, and learned a whole lot more in the process. Continue reading »

Jul 212015
By Catalina von Hildebrand, 21 July 2015

Two weeks ago BankTrack launched its Paris Pledge campaign, aimed at getting the world’s banks to end their multi-billion dollar financing of the coal industry – and many thanks to all those people and organisations from around the world who have already supported the call (if you haven’t already, you can do so here).

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Jun 122015
By Pippa Gallop (Bankwatch) and Yann Louvel (BankTrack), 12 June 2015
This blog post is published jointly with Bankwatch.

Slovenia’s newly built Sostanj 6 power plant is expected to generate losses of around EUR 200 million over the next 3-4 years. This was the view put forward at a recent panel discussion in Zagreb by Blaz Kosorok, General Director of Holding Slovenske Elektrarne (HSE), Slovenia’s state-owned power generation company and the country’s largest company.

Given that Croatia’s Plomin C project shares some of Sostanj 6’s features – failure to really consider alternatives, a lack of transparency about costs, and failure to properly include the public in decision-making – could Croatia be about to repeat its neighbour’s mistakes? And how is the only major international financier involved in Plomin C to date – Crédit Agricole – viewing its own future in another looming Balkan coal power debacle? Continue reading »

Jun 032015
By Yann Louvel and Greig Aitken, BankTrack, 3 June 2015

It must have been a bewildering scene at the Paris headquarters of Crédit Agricole last Wednesday when the news came through that rival bank BNP Paribas would be joining other French multinationals such as EDF, Engie, Renault Nissan and Air France as official sponsors of the United Nations Climate Summit (COP21) to be held in the French capital at the end of the year. Continue reading »

May 282015
By Merel van der Mark, BankTrack, 28 May 2015

A month ago BankTrack released an investor briefing warning prospective investors of the risks of investing in a USD 400 million bond offer by Singapore based Golden Agri-Resources (GAR). Although the bond seems to have sold well, the bond issuing at the end of April was followed swiftly by a number of developments in May which together have seen GAR’s sustainability risk skyrocket:

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Apr 242015
By Yann Louvel and Greig Aitken, BankTrack, 24 April 2015

Today’s HSBC annual shareholders’ meeting in London has been dominated by the bank’s cutely timed announcement that it is considering whether or not to move its headquarters out of the UK. Here at BankTrack, and in light of other less high profile HSBC announcements of late, we’ve been wondering when the bank might see fit to announce an imminent departure from its substantial global coal finance investments – by our conservative estimates, HSBC provided just short of €8bn support to the coal sector in lending and underwriting over the period 2005-April 2014. Continue reading »