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.
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.
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.