Nr. dodgy deals
Campaigners confront Citi over coal financing at annual shareholder meeting
New York, Apr 22 2008
Activists with Rainforest Action Network (RAN) were joined by Appalachian residents at Citi’s Annual General Shareholder Meeting today to protest the bank’s role as a leading financier of the coal industry and to support a landmark shareholder resolution on climate change. The resolution—which was offered by Boston Common Asset Management, Catholic Healthcare West and Pleroma Inc.—requests that Citi cease all financial support for mountaintop removal (MTR) coal mining and the construction of new coal-fired power plants. This marks the first time a shareholder resolution addressing the climate change implications of a bank’s external financing will come to a vote.
Coal-fired power plants are responsible for nearly a third of the nation’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. In 2006, the combined CO2 emissions of Citi’s power company clients totaled an estimated 1,577 million tons, equal to 25 percent of the nation’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Citi is the top underwriter for American Electric Power—the country’s largest electricity generator and emitter of greenhouse gases—having provided more than $12 billion in financing over the past seven years.
“Banks are the top financiers of the world’s most carbon-intensive industries and could play a critical role in the transition to a low-carbon economy,” said Rebecca Tarbotton, director of RAN’s Global Finance Campaign. “Coal is a ticking time bomb for investors and the climate. Citi shareholders can either respond to the climate crisis with vision and leadership, or continue to lock in an outdated energy infrastructure for decades to come.”
Among those accompanying RAN at the shareholder meeting were community organizer Maria Gunnoe, a life-long resident of Boone County, W.Va. Gunnoe has experienced the destruction of mountaintop removal firsthand and has organized extensively around the issue in order to preserve the Appalachian way of life and communities throughout the region.
“Citi’s carbon policy must address coal from the cradle to the grave,” said Gunnoe. “As long as the coal industry and its bankers wage war on the mountains and people of Appalachia, there will be no true carbon principles.”
Citi has financial relationships with each of the top five producers of MTR coal. These companies are responsible for nearly half the total MTR coal production of the top 20 most active MTR coal companies. The EPA estimates that more than a million acres across Appalachia have already been lost to MTR, and that if the practice continues unabated, an additional 1.4 million acres of forest will be lost by the end of the decade. Mountaintop removal flattens mountain ranges and transforms healthy mountain woodlands into toxic sludge and rubble that has clogged more than 700 miles of rivers and streams. The large-scale destruction forces animal species from their habitat and uproots Appalachian communities.
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