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.
News this week that the Norwegian Global Pension Fund (GPF), the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund and one of the largest investors in the coal industry, divested from over 50 coal companies in 2014 has come with some unfortunate caveats attached.
While GPF’s ditching of a number of major companies involved in devastating mining practices – in particular the mountain-top removal exponents Arch Coal and Alpha Natural Resources – and notorious giants such as Coal India are very welcome and timely steps, these coal divestment advances were immediately compromised by the fund revealing the state of play with its other fossil fuel interests: in 2014 it increased its stake in major oil and gas companies to £20 billion.
Global Divestment Day kicks off today, and is set to feature over 400 actions across six continents on Friday and Saturday. Just a week ago, activists received a notable boost: the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, Norway’s Government Pension Global Fund (GPGF), disclosed that in 2014 it had divested from 32 coal companies.
A flurry of coal news and statistics in the first weeks of 2015 have been catching our eye at BankTrack, confirming as they do that around the world the industry is in deep trouble. Nagging away at the back of the mind however, and based on our specific lens through which we assess the coal sector’s prospects, are a few enduring concerns.
FOE Blog on 25 November 2014.
Chinese banks are the largest lenders to development projects in the world. As Chinese banks increasingly invest in development projects overseas, will they also invest in environmental and social sustainability? Our new report, “Going out, But Going Green? Assessing the Implementation of China’s Green Credit Guidelines Overseas”, examines the extent of bank compliance with China’s landmark, green finance policy.
Huffington Post blog.
After nearly destroying the global financial system, big international banks are yet again undermining international stability, this time by underwriting the coal industry’s devastating effect on climate disruption and human health.
The city of Thun in Switzerland isn’t a bad place to travel for a meeting. Overlooked by the snow-capped Bernese Alps, and situated on the banks of the clear blue Thunersee, it’s easy to see why a group of seven banks picked this location to hash out the details of their October 2013 discussion paper on how banks can implement the UN’s new global human rights standard, the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
RAN’s “The Understory” blog
This could be the tipping point for the horrific practice of Mountaintop Removal coal mining.
Just this week, JPMorgan Chase updated its environmental policy, revealing that it will be ending financial relationships with Mountaintop Removal coal mining companies.
Wells Fargo and BNP Paribas/Bank of the West have recently taken similar steps. If the other major banks commit to stop financing mountaintop removal, fossil fuel companies will have no choice but to end the obliteration of mountains and poisoning of communities for coal.
Ryan Brightwell, on Jul 30, 2013. Republished from Blue & Green Tomorrow.
Most commentators seem to agree that a return to ‘back to basics’ banking is needed if we are to avoid the kind of speculative bubbles that tanked the global economy in 2008.
This means banks should focus on taking deposits and offering loans, and making a fair margin on the difference in interest rates between the two. (Once, bankers were said to adhere to something called the 3-6-3 rule: pay 3% interest on deposits, loan at 6%, and be on the golf course by 3pm. This was characteristic of a lazy, uncompetitive banking market, but one which, at least, didn’t crash the world economy.)