Feb 022016

 Bangladesh’s Rampal moves forward, as bank interest in the Dominican Republic’s Punta Catalina plant and Indonesia’s Tanjong Jati B raises concerns over the strength of their climate commitments

By Greig Aitken and Yann Louvel, BankTrack, 4 February 2016

As we’ve been settling into the new year and wondering how visible and – crucially – rapid any genuine follow through from the words of the Paris climate summit would be, there’s been a nagging concern at the back of our minds: in what’s supposed to be these new, ambitious ‘1.5 degree Celsius limit’ times, what’s going to be the first major new coal installation investment of 2016, and who’s going to be bankrolling it?

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Dec 222015
By Oleg Savitsky (NECU) and Greig Aitken (BankTrack), 22 December 2015

Almost two months ago, NECU and BankTrack issued an Investor Alert describing the circumstances which had forced Ukraine’s biggest coal company, DTEK, to seek a debt restructuring agreement with a host of European banks, including Dutch ING, Italy’s UniCredit and Austria’s Erste Bank. The troubled coal giant has been seeking a delay in the payment of most of its $3 billion debt. Continue reading »

Dec 122015
By Yann Louvel, BankTrack, 12 December 2015

Earlier this week I was able to participate and ask a question at one of the many Paris COP21 side events: the launch of the ‘Five Voluntary Principles for Mainstreaming Climate Action within Financial Institutions’, convened by a group of public ‘development’ banks including the World Bank, the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The new principles so far have 26 banks from the public and private sectors on board, and appear set to be touted for further signatories in the coming months.

These are the latest in a series of voluntary principles on climate by global banks which have gone nowhere over the past decade – see the Carbon Principles and Climate Principles, launched in 2008, which subsequently disappeared without a trace. My general impression is that these principles won’t go far either. They appear, though, to have served another purpose for the financial sector, providing PR greenwashing at the most important climate gathering of the decade. Continue reading »

Dec 082015

Civil society says no to greenwashing and urges action

By Lucie Pinson, Friends of the Earth France and Yann Louvel, BankTrack, 8 December 2015

The Tata Mundra coal-fired power plant in India is one of the largest power plants in Asia and for years now has been the subject of much controversy. The first of the Indian government’s so-called UMPP plants, an ambitious series of ‘ultra mega power plants’ to be rolled out all across the country, it was launched in 2008 and has been fully operational since 2013.

And it’s been seven years of controversy since BNP Paribas, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and several Indian banks decided to finance the project in 2008 in spite of its many risks. Faced with the environmental and social impacts of the plant, directly affected local communities took steps against the World Bank in 2011, and then against the Asian Development Bank in 2013. In addition to the 30 million tons of carbon dioxide emitted annually by Tata Mundra, the construction of the plant itself caused the polluting of rivers, the destruction of mangroves, and seriously affected the lives of local fishermen who have lost their livelihoods. All this to see electricity prices increase instead of the better access to electricity that was promised.

Today’s birthday, then, of World Bank president Dr Jim Kim, and the Pinocchio Prize picked up by BNP Paribas in the last few days in the ‘Local impacts’ category, provide an opportunity to reflect on the current status of the Tata Mundra project and the demands of communities that still remain unsatisfied. Continue reading »

Nov 202015

By Ryan Brightwell, BankTrack, 20 November 2015

Earlier this week I attended 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 November weather which was eerily spring-like.

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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