Who are “the climate killers”?: new report identifies 20 leading banks « Mining Blog

Who are “the climate killers”?: new report identifies 20 leading banks

30. November 2011,

Today (30 November 2011) – at the Climate Change conference of parties in Durban – the German environmental organisation urgewald, the South African social and environmental justice organisations groundWork and Earthlife Africa Johannesburg, and the international network BankTrack publish new research on the portfolios of the world’s leading banks, relating to their financing of coal.

Called “Bankrolling Climate Change” the study identifies what it terms “the top twenty climate killer banks” – led by JP Morgan Chase (no surprise there since it’s the leading international bank to put its financial muscle behind mining in the general), followed by Citi and Bank of America.

Says Heffa Schueking of urgewald: “We chose to look into coal financing as coal-fired power plants are the biggest source of man-made CO2 emissions and the major culprit in the drama of climate change.In spite of the fact that climate change is already having severe impacts on the most vulnerable societies, there is an abundance of plans to build new coal-fired power plants. If banks provide money for these projects, they will wreck all attempts to limit global warming to 2° Celsius.”

The organisations – using data provided by the Profundo research group – examined the portfolios of 93 of the world’s leading banks and looked into their support for 31 major coal-mining companies (representing 44% of global coal production) and 40 producers of coal-fired electricity (which together own over 50% of global coal-fired generation capacity). The total value of coal financing provided by these banks since 2005 (the year the Kyoto Protocol came into force) amounts to 232 billion Euro.

The top twenty banks hail from the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Switzerland, China, Italy and Japan.

Apart from the Big Three (mentioned above), the culprits are, in descending order:

Morgan Stanley, Barclays Bank, Deutsche Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland, BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse, UBS, Goldman Sachs, Bank of China,
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Crédit Agricole / Calyon,
UniCredit / HVB, China Construction Bank, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Société Générale, Wells Fargo, and HSBC.

The study points out that: “Coal-fired power plants are not cheap to build. Typically, a 600 Megawatt plant will cost around US$ 2 billion. Power producers therefore rely heavily on banks to provide and mobilize the necessary capital for coal plants.

“Our figures clearly show that coal financing is on the rise,” comments Tristen Taylor of Earthlife Africa Johannesburg. “Between 2005 and 2010, coal financing almost doubled. If we don’t take Banks to task now, coal financing will continue to grow,” he warns.

The study looks into the statements of the top “climate killer” banks and also examines their existing climate policies. “Interestingly, almost all of the top twenty climate killer banks in our ranking have made far-reaching statements regarding their commitment to combating climate change,” says Yann Louvel of BankTrack. “However, the numbers show that their money is not where their mouth is.”

He also notes that the policies many banks have adopted and the voluntary initiatives they have signed on to – such as the “Carbon Principles” or the “Climate Principles” – have failed to make any difference in the composition of the banks’ portfolios.

The study calls on banks to become “responsible climate actors” and to quit coal, while shifting their portfolios to renewables and energy efficiency and set and implement ambitious CO2 reduction goals for their financed emissions.

For further information or interviews, contact:

Heffa Schücking, heffa@urgewald.de, Tel: (49)-160-96761436

Yann Louvel, yann@banktrack.org, Tel: (33)-688-907868

Bobby Peek, bobby@groundwork.org.za, Tel: (27)-82-4641383

Tristen Taylor, tristen@earthlife.org.za, Tel: (27)-84-2502434

For more information on all the banks listed in the report (apart from the Chinese ones), go to:

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