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).

When we conceived the campaign, there were some banks we thought would be more likely to budge from their coal bunkers than others. Deutsche Bank, which announced a partnership last week with the UN Green Climate Fund, was one we considered less likely. Currently occupying the tenth position in BankTrack’s coal banks list, Deutsche Bank has deep, ongoing ties to the coal industry.

The Frankfurt based bank has long been the target of our colleagues at the German environment group urgewald, who in 2014 presented Deutsche Bank with the Black Planet Award in regrettable recognition of the bank’s facilitation of “massive climate damage, human rights violations and international arms deals”.

Unlike a host of international banks which have seen sense in recent years and severed ties with the outrageous mountain top removal (MTR) technique (involving the dynamiting of the Appalachian Mountains to get at coal), Deutsche Bank is still clinging on in its support of MTR miners. The bank’s policy states that its only direct involvement in the sector is “providing credit support to reclamation bonds that are issued to guarantee financing for the reconstitution of disturbed land”, a position which can only mean that it’s thus still deemed acceptable at Deutsche Bank to enable MTR miners to attempt to clean up after they’ve gone and devastated ecosystems and compromised communities in the first place.

On its website, the bank even attempts some pushback against its number 10 coal bank status from BankTrack with a highly unconvincing justification of its ‘forward-looking support’ for the coal industry:


And yet, despite all of this, Deutsche Bank has been officially accepted as a partner by the UN Green Climate Fund, a $10 billion facility aimed at helping poor countries deal with climate change. Not surprisingly, given the bank’s ongoing legacy of hefty fossil fuel financing (over €15 billion, according to our conservative estimates, to coal mining and power companies between 2005 and April 2014), the move was slammed by environment groups.

Deutsche Bank’s line on its admittance to the UN fund was, nonetheless, fairly unequivocal: “The group is highly committed to the GCF’s goal to promote and finance a paradigm shift towards a low-emission economy and climate resilient development pathways.”

Might we suggest that if Deutsche Bank is in any way committed to promoting and financing this paradigm shift, then publishing its plans to phase out coal finance should be its number one priority.

Via the Paris Pledge campaign, BankTrack is giving Deutsche Bank and the rest of the banking sector a public platform to express their commitment to this absolutely crucial shift towards a low-emission economy, by committing in time for the Paris climate summit to exit the coal industry – both mining and power – and publishing a clear timetable to do so.

So far over 70 campaign groups and other organisations, along with hundreds of individuals, have signed up in support of the call to “do the Paris Pledge”. They know that a rapid exit from the coal industry is urgently needed. We have written to Deutsche Bank this week inviting them to show that they too know what is needed – we’ll be awaiting their response.

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