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.
The proposed expansion of the Abbot Point coal export terminal is running out of friends in the banking world. This week’s news that US giants Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, and JPMorgan Chase will not finance the proposed coal export terminals at Abbot Point bring the total number of banks to have made this commitment to nine. Even Morgan Stanley, currently in business with Adani over the partial sale of the existing coal export terminal at Abbot Point, acknowledge the environmental risks associated with the proposed new terminals and won’t provide funding to expand the coal port.
The campaign to stop bank financing of mountaintop removal coal mining is gaining momentum. For years, RAN and other organizations in the global BankTrack network have urged U.S. and European banks to stop financing the devastation caused by mountaintop removal (MTR) coal mining. BankTrack members have worked closely with advocates from Appalachia — the region hardest hit by MTR — including Paul Corbit Brown and Elise Keaton from Keeper of the Mountains, and Bob Kincaid from Coal River Mountain Watch. Together, they’ve travelled around the U.S. and Europe to speak directly to CEOs and boards of banks at their annual shareholder meetings and urge them to stop bankrolling mountaintop removal coal mining.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) has just launched its 5th assessment report on climate change mitigation in Berlin, the most comprehensive assessment of potential solutions to the climate crisis yet seen. It clearly shows that we can stop the worst of climate change by transforming our energy systems, and that for this we must shift the patterns of investments in the energy sector now.
Yann Louvel, BankTrack, 28 January 2014
Earlier this month, Bank of America participated in the 2014 Investor Summit on Climate Risk, as the “convening sponsor” of the event. While there was a lot of talk about the urgency of the problem of tackling climate change, there were a few things the bank didn’t talk about. For starters, their role in financing the coal industry.