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Time to end the banking sector's life support for the coal industry

From concerns over air pollution and acid rain to its destructive impact on the climate, coal has been recognised as the dirtiest, most dated and most inefficient fossil fuel option. It is the most emissions intensive fossil fuel and the leading cause of climate change. Globally, coal-fired power plants are the largest source of carbon dioxide - greater than tropical deforestation or oil use for transportation.

These facts have been well-established for some time, yet it is only very recently that international private banks, which have collectively provided the global coal industry with hundreds of billions of dollars in financial support over decades, have started to publicly sound alarm bells about both coal's dreadful impacts and its increasing unsoundness as an investment commodity.

Such alarm bells have not been heard as yet uniformly across the banking sector, but they are growing - from the likes of Goldman Sachs, HSBC and Citi in their advice to investors, and as seen in August 2015 comments from the CEO of KBC, one of Belgium's biggest banks, stating that he would prefer to no longer invest in coal.

This kind of recognition of the threat posed by continuing extraction and burning of coal, albeit very belated, is welcome from the banking sector, but it is scarcely being matched in tangible deeds and real divesting from coal.  

To date, only two major international banks - Bank of America and Crédit Agricole - have committed to end their financing for coal mining, and none of the world's major banking names has yet been prepared to pull out of financing for coal-fired power plants.

While we have also seen a number of isolated coal finance breakthroughs in the last few years in large part due to campaign pressure applied by BankTrack and our allies engaged in international coal campaigning - most notably a number of big banks have announced their pull-out from the controversial mountaintop removal mining sector along with commitments to steer clear of investing in certain notorious coal development projects - the banking status quo when it comes to coal largely continues, even as the window for taking action to drastically reduce carbon emissions and avoid an outright climate emergency is rapidly closing.

This status quo is perhaps best captured by these self-satisfied (and self-serving) words currently on display on the website of Germany's biggest bank, in answer to the question "Why does Deutsche Bank support the coal industry?"

"Deutsche Bank supports a well-balanced global energy system that is forward- looking and that takes account of economic conditions as well as environmental and health and safety considerations.

At present, it is still not possible to meet the substantial global energy demand solely through renewable energy sources. For this reason, we will continue to finance a diversified range of energy. Given the increasing energy demand, in some regions of the world coal cannot be avoided."

The lack of ambition is palpable, and illustrates the challenge we are facing to end banking sector life support for the coal industry. BankTrack believes, fundamentally, that in order to avoid the devastating impacts of their investments, private banks must take steps to disengage from all activities and projects that substantially contribute to climate change and environmental and community degradation.

In the coal sector, therefore, they must:

  • End support for all new coal extraction and delivery;
  • End support for all new coal-fired power plants.

This is the crux of BankTrack's recently launched Paris Pledge campaign that seeks to bring an end to the banking sector's coal finance as the eyes of the world focus on the Paris climate summit at the end of 2015. The Pledge campaign is discussed briefly below.

BankTrack coal campaigns

In recent years, and in tandem with our partners, our coal campaigning around the world has focused on the dodgy deals pictured on this world map. The main active ones are the following:

Mountaintop removal (MTR) mining is a form of strip mining in which coal companies use explosives to blast as much as 800 to 1000 feet off the tops of mountains in order to reach the coal seams that lie underneath. The resulting millions of tons of waste rock, dirt and vegetation are then dumped into surrounding valleys, burying miles and miles of streams under piles of rubble hundreds of feet deep. MTR mining harms not only aquatic ecosystems and water quality, it also destroys hundreds of acres of healthy forests and fish and wildlife habitats, including the habitats of threatened and endangered species, when the tops of mountains are blasted away.

Rather than remove coal from the mountain, MTR removes the mountain from the coal. And, needless to say, this has also created havoc and misery for scores of communities across America's Appalachian Mountains.

However, our targeting of major key banks that have long supported the MTR sector has reaped positive dividends in the last few years, and there is now undoubted momentum under way whereby we have been witnessing a string of major US and European banks publicly committing, one after the other, to pull out of this most controversial and catastrophic form of coal mining. We will continue to pressure the remaining laggards, such as Deutsche Bank, to remove themselves fully from MTR sector financing.  

Other priority coal mines projects around the world that BankTrack is collaborating on with local and international partners:

Coal power plant and coal infrastructure projects around the world that BankTrack is collaborating on with local and international partners:

Banks: Quit Coal!

Building on the work of our 2011 'Bankrolling Climate Change' report and the 2013 'Banking on Coal' report, in 2014 we generated the most extensive data set so far on the links between banks and the coal industry, housing the information in a dynamic new website called coalbanks.org.

Our latest research, presented in the 'Banking on Coal 2014' report, investigated the financial links between 92 of the largest global banks and 93 of the largest coal companies, in both mining and power, unearthing bank lending and underwriting activity between 2005 and April 2014 that - on a conservative estimate - totalled $500 billion.

The website and report highlight the world's top 20 coal banks, and the website also presents the coal Dodgy Deals that BankTrack and partners are tracking around the world.

In addition, and also part of the Banks: Quit Coal! campaign is our continued teaming up with partners Rainforest Action Network and the Sierra Club in the production of the Annual Coal Finance Report Card.

The findings in the 2015 report card - entitled 'The End of Coal?' - indicate that, despite a dismal long-term financial outlook for the coal industry, banks have thus far been willing to prolong the demise of coal in the service of short-term profits - and at the expense of the global climate.  

Paris Pledge campaign

The Paris Pledge campaign, launched in July 2015, calls on all private sector banks to make a public commitment to phase out their multi-billion dollar financing of both coal power and coal mining, before the start of the UN climate summit in Paris at the end of 2015.

The campaign is coordinated by BankTrack and has already secured support from over 100 environmental and campaigning groups including Avaaz, Friends of the Earth US, Global Justice Now, Global Witness, Greenpeace International, Market Forces, Rainforest Action Network and the Sierra Club.

The Paris Pledge website contains the text of the Paris Pledge text for banks to sign, provides an opportunity for individuals and organisations to support the campaign and contains further background information and resources related to coal financing. 

For any question or information on the BankTrack Coal campaign, please contact Yann Louvel, BankTrack Climate and Energy Campaign Coordinator.

"Coal-fired power stations are death factories. Close them." James Hansen

BankTrack contact person for this campaign:

Yann Louvel, Climate and Energy Campaign Coordinator, BankTrack


working partners
Bank of America
Bank of America is an American multinational banking and financial services corporation and is the second largest bank holding company in the United States by assets, and…
Bank of China
Bank of China is one of China's Big Four joint-stock commercial banks. Bank of China offers commercial banking, investment banking, insurance, asset management, aircraft…
Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFG
Bank of Tokyo - Mitsubishi UFJ is the largest bank in Japan. It was established on January 1, 2006, with the merger of the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, Ltd. and UFJ Bank Ltd.…
Barclays
Barclays is a major global financial services provider engaged in retail and commercial banking, credit cards, investment banking, wealth management and investment management…
BNP Paribas
BNP Paribas is one of the main banks in Europe. It was created on 23 May 2000 through the merger of Banque Nationale de Paris (BNP) and Paribas.…
China Construction Bank
China Construction Bank (CCB) is a leading commercial bank in China providing a comprehensive range of commercial banking products and services. CCB's business consists of…
Citi
Citigroup Inc., doing business as Citi, is a major American financial services company based in New York, NY. Citigroup was formed from a merger between Citicorp and financial…
Commerzbank
Commerzbank AG is Germany's second largest bank, headquartered in Frankfurt am Main. Next to a large presence in the German banking market, Commerzbank has numerous branch…
Crédit Agricole
The Crédit Agricole Group is a unified but decentralised group consisting of 39 Regional Banks, Crédit Agricole S.A. and many subsidiaries. It includes Crédit…
Credit Suisse
Credit Suisse Group was founded in 1856 and is headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland. It serves companies, institutional clients and high-net-worth private clients worldwide,…
Deutsche Bank
Deutsche Bank was founded in 1870 and is a leading global investment bank. It has operations throughout the world and has a strong presence in Germany and Europe. The bank´s…
Goldman Sachs
Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS) was founded in 1869 and is a leading global financial services firm that is headquartered in New York. It provides an array of financing…
HSBC
Headquartered in London, HSBC is one of the largest banking and financial services organisations in the world. HSBC operates from around 6,100 offices in 72 countries and…
ICBC
ICBC (Industrial and Commercial Bank of China) is a joint-stock commercial bank based in the People's Republic of China.  Founded in 1984, ICBC overtook Citi to become…
JP Morgan Chase
JPMorgan Chase is one of the Big Four Banks of the United States (along with Bank of America, Citigroup and Wells Fargo). The firm was formed in…
Morgan Stanley
Morgan Stanley was one of the four investment banks that for decades ruled on Wall Street (with Lehman Brothers, Merril Lynch and JPMorgan Chase). The corporation, founded…
RBS
RBS was founded in 1727 and is one of the major UK banks. RBS has 40 million customers using the financial services of over 30 brands, including NatWest, Direct Line, Churchill,…
Société Générale
Société Générale ("SocGen") is one of the oldest banks in France, dating back to 1864. The original name was Société…
UBS
Modern UBS was formed through a merger of the Union Bank of Switzerland and the Swiss Bank Corporation in June 1998.  UBS is headquartered in Zurich and Basel and it…
UniCredit
The UniCredit Group is the result of the merger of nine of Italy's largest banks and the subsequent combination with the German HVB Group and the Italian Capitalia Group.…
Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo is one of the big banks in the United States, located in San Fransisco. In october 2008, Wells Fargo acquired the troubled bank Wachovia, at that moment the sixth…
"Coal-fired power stations are death factories. Close them." James Hansen

BankTrack contact person for this campaign:

Yann Louvel, Climate and Energy Campaign Coordinator, BankTrack


working partners
Alpha Coal project
Australia
The Alpha Coal project is a AUD6 billion coal mine and export project that is proposed to be constructed in Queensland, Australia. The black thermal coal mine and associated…
Batang Coal Power Project
Indonesia
Batang coal-fired power plant (2,000 megawatt) will be one of the biggest coal-fired power plants in Asia. It will cost approximately JPY400 billion (USD four billion). Japanese…
Carmichael coal mine project
Australia
Carmichael - located in Queensland's unexploited Galilee Basin and proposed by Indian conglomerate Adani - would take the crown of Australia's biggest and baddest coal mine…
Cerrejón coal mine
Colombia
The Cerrejón coal mine in La Guajira, Colombia, is the largest in Latin America and one of the largest in the world. Its steady expansion since its founding in 1976…
Czeczott coal power plant
Poland
The planned Czeczott coal power plant in Poland is a 900-1000MW hard-coal-fired power project located in the Wola village in Silesia (Slaskie Voivodship), on the area of…
Great Barrier Reef Coal & Gas Exports
Australia
Australia is on the verge of an unprecedented coal boom. The epicentre of this expansion is the yet-to-be-developed Galilee Basin in Central Queensland. Galilee is the proposed…
HRL/Dual Gas coal power plant
Australia
The HRL group of companies through subsidiary "Dual Gas" proposes to build a 600 Megawatt brown coal (lignite) power plant using Integrated Drying Gasification and Combined…
IndoMet Coal Project
Indonesia
BHP Billiton's coal mining concessions for the IndoMet Project span an area of 350,000 hectares, more than twice the size of Greater London. The concessions contain…
Jaworzno coal power plant
Poland
A new hard-coal powered generation unit is planned for the Jaworzno III power plant in the Silesian Voivodeship of southern Poland. The unit, if built, will have a generating…
Kaltim Prima Coal mine
Indonesia
PT Kaltim Prima Coal (KPC), located in the province of East Kalimantan, is the biggest coal mine in Indonesia. The KPC project produces around 50 million tonnes a year, making…
Kosovo C coal power plant
Kosovo
Kosovo's power sector is made up of two power plants, Kosovo A and Kosovo B, located near the capital of Pristina. The government of Kosovo supports plans to reform Kosovo's…
Kusile coal power plant
South Africa
The Kusile coal fired power plant project is located in the province of Mpumalanga, in South Africa, initiated by Eskom, the state electricity company. With 4800 megawatt,…
Maules Creek coal mine
Australia
Whitehaven Coal's Maules Creek mine is a part thermal, part semi soft coking coal mine being developed in the Gunnedah Basin in Northern New South Wales. It would produce…
Medupi coal-fired power plant
South Africa
The Medupi Power Station is a coal-fired power plant currently under construction in Lephalale, South Africa. The project comprises six 800 megawatt units to provide a total…
Mountain top removal coal mining
United States
Mountain top removal (MTR) mining is a form of strip mining in which coal companies use explosives to blast as much as 800 to 1,000 feet off the tops of mountains order to…
Phulbari coal mine
Bangladesh
The Phulbari coal project is a proposed open pit coal mine in northwest Bangladesh and includes the construction of at least one 500-MW power plant. At full production about…
Plomin C coal power plant
Croatia
The Croatian electricity company HEP announced on September 2, 2014 that a preferred bidder consortium, consisting of the French energy company Alstom and the Japanese Marubeni…
Pólnoc coal power plant
Poland
The planned plant is a 2000MW coal-fired greenfield project located in the direct vicinity of the Nature 2000 site (Lower Vistula Valley). Impeded from securing free CO2…
Rampal Coal Based Thermal Power Plant
Bangladesh
The Sundarbans, the largest mangrove forest in the world, is a living and effective natural fence protecting the coastal belt areas of Bangladesh, and a UNESCO World Heritage…
Rybnik coal power plant
Poland
A new 910 MWe (electrical megawatt) unit is planned for the hard coal-fired Rybnik power station, located on the outskirts of the city of Rybnik in Silesia Voivodship, to…
Sasan ultra mega coal power project (UMPP)
India
The Sasan project, also known as the Sasan Ultra Mega Power Project (UMPP), is a 3,960 megawatt (6x660 megawatt) coal-fired project, located in Sasan, Madhya Pradesh in India.…
SOCAR Aegean Refinery
Turkey
The owner and operator of the Aegean Refinery is STAR Rafineri A.S. ("STAR") a joint stock company incorporated under the laws of Turkey. The joint venture is now 81.5% owned…
Stanari coal power plant
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Energy Finance Team is currently developing a lignite power plant in Stanari, Bosnia and Herzegovina. The proposed 300 MW plant is being built by Dongfang Electric…
Tata Mundra Ultra Mega Power Plant (UMPP)
India
The first of 16 Ultra Mega Power Projects (UMPPs) to be commissioned in India, the Tata Mundra UMPP is located in Tunda village at Mundra, in the Kutch district in Gujarat.…
TES 6 coal power plant
Slovenia
Šoštanj in North Slovenia, 30 kilometres from the Austrian border, is the location of an existing lignite-fired power plant, Termoelektrarna Šoštanj…
Tufanbeyli coal power plant
Turkey
Enerjisa, the Turkish electricity producer owned by E.ON and Sabanci, is building a new coal power plant in Tufanbeyli, commonly known as Enerjisa 2.5. The lignite-fired…
Turów coal power plant
Poland
Turów power plant is the third largest heating power plant in Poland, and is located in Bogatynia in the Lower Silesia region, bordering Germany and the Czech Republic.…
check dodgy deals on record
"Coal-fired power stations are death factories. Close them." James Hansen

BankTrack contact person for this campaign:

Yann Louvel, Climate and Energy Campaign Coordinator, BankTrack


working partners
Adani
India
Adani is a large Indian resources, logistics and energy company with big expansion plans. It was founded by Indian billionaire Gautam Adani, in 1988. It has coal mining interests…
Alpha Natural Resources
United States
Alpha Natural Resources is a large American producer of metallurgical and thermal coal. It also provides services relating to equipment repairs, road construction and logistics…
Anglo American
United Kingdom
Anglo American is a British multinational mining company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It is the world's largest producer of platinum, with around 40% of world…
Arch Coal
United States
Arch Coal is an American coal mining and processing company. The company mines, processes, and markets bituminous and sub-bituminous coal with low sulfur content in the United…
BHP Billiton
Australia
BHP Billiton is the world's largest mining company. It occupies significant positions in major commodity businesses, including aluminium, energy coal and metallurgical coal,…
Bumi Resources
Indonesia
Bumi Resources is currently the most significant coal producer in Indonesia with 2013 production at 80 million tonnes. It owns the Kaltim Prima Coal project in…
Coal India
India
Coal India is the biggest coal producer worldwide, majority-owned by the government of India. It was created in the 1970's when India's coal mining industry was nationalised…
Coal of Africa
Australia
Coal of Africa Limited (CoAL) is an Australian based mining company which operates mines in South Africa. In 2012 it produced around 3.4 million metric tons of coal.
Drummond
United States
Drummond Company Inc. is a coal mining company based in Birmingham, Alabama, United States, with operations in Alabama and in La Loma, Colombia. It controls coal reserves…
EDF
France
Like its rival and fellow French multinational AREVA, Électricité de France (EDF) is one of the biggest players in the global energy game. In fact, with more…
Enel
Italy
Enel is Italy's largest power company and Europe's second largest according to its generating capacity. Its interests stretch beyond Italy to 40 countries on four continents.…
ENGIE
France
ENGIE (known as GDF SUEZ until April 2015) is the largest independent power producer in the world. In 2013 it operated 600 power plants worldwide. It had 113.7 GW of installed…
ESKOM
South Africa
Eskom is the world's eleventh-largest power utility in terms of generating capacity and ranks ninth in terms of sales. In 2011 it had an installed generating capacity of…
Glencore
Switzerland
Glencore plc (formerly Glencore Xstrata) is an Anglo-Swiss multinational commodity trading and mining company. The company was created through a merger of Glencore with Xstrata…
Jindal Steel & Power
India
Jindal Steel and Power Limited (JSPL) is one of India's major steel producers with a significant presence in sectors like mining, power generation and infrastructure. It…
Rio Tinto
Australia
Rio Tinto is a mining and exploration company involved in each stage of metal and mineral production and processing. Rio Tinto is one of the largest publicly listed mining…
RWE
Germany
RWE is Europe's second largest electricity generator and one of Europe's five leading gas and electricity companies. Founded in 1898, the company is active in the generation,…
Shenhua Group
China
Shenhua Group is a wholly state-owned company founded in 1995 directly under the central government. It is the largest coal producing company in the world. It takes coal…
Vattenfall
Sweden
Sweden's state-owned Vattenfall is Europe's sixth largest generator of electricity and largest producer of heat. In 2013, Vattenfall's total installed capacity across all…
check company profiles on record
"Coal-fired power stations are death factories. Close them." James Hansen

BankTrack contact person for this campaign:

Yann Louvel, Climate and Energy Campaign Coordinator, BankTrack


working partners
2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006
"Coal-fired power stations are death factories. Close them." James Hansen

BankTrack contact person for this campaign:

Yann Louvel, Climate and Energy Campaign Coordinator, BankTrack


working partners
"Coal-fired power stations are death factories. Close them." James Hansen

BankTrack contact person for this campaign:

Yann Louvel, Climate and Energy Campaign Coordinator, BankTrack


working partners
pictures
Coal fair action day Oct 22, 2011

Firewalk Jun 08, 2010

videos

Your postcards have been delivered! – Westpac AGM 2014
Dec 15, 2014 - Westpac CEO, Gail Kelly, graciously accepted the 1,000 postcards that were made her at today's Westpac AGM. But, we'll be sending her more, asking her to make Reef protection her legacy before she retires next year.

French bank urged to stop investing in coal
Jun 21, 2014 - On June 2nd, 2014, in France, activists brought the polluting reality of French bank Société Générale's investments in coal to their doorstep - by dumping 1.8 tonnes of coal outside their headquarters in Bayonne.

COP19: Heffa Schücking
Mar 26, 2014 - Heffa Schücking of Urgewald talks about the role banks play in financing coal production.

Banking while Borneo burns: top five banks fuelling climate change
Oct 02, 2013 - The Global Justice Now (formerly World Development Movement) calling for UK companies to make public the carbon emissions of the fossil fuel extraction they finance, as well as having to report their direct carbon emissions. Under new rules coming into force on October 1 2013, firms must disclose information such as energy use and petrol consumption in their annual reports. But the UK's top five banks helped fossil fuel companies raise GBP170 billion between 2010 and 2012. This must be limited if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change.

Bank of America: stop funding dirty coal
Jun 27, 2012 - Bank of America can't be a green leader as long as it’s underwriting climatechange

The Last Mountain
Apr 18, 2011 - Documentary on Mountaintop Removal.

ANZ's dirty secret
Apr 14, 2011 -

Mountaintop Removal: An American Tragedy
Apr 06, 2011 - Wake up call for MTR banks

Dirty Money
Mar 21, 2011 - Research group PLATFORM launches a new report 'Dirty Money - Corporate greenwash and RBS coal finance'.

The Story of Coal
Feb 10, 2011 - Do you know that 50% of electricity in the U.S. is generated from coal? Do you know where your energy comes from? Watch "The Story of Coal" to learn more.

Fireparty: launch campaign against banks and climate change
Jun 10, 2010 - -in dutch-

Wise Up Dominion
Nov 05, 2008 - RAN joins its Appalachian allies to demand a clean energy future in Wise County, Virginia.

"Coal-fired power stations are death factories. Close them." James Hansen

BankTrack contact person for this campaign:

Yann Louvel, Climate and Energy Campaign Coordinator, BankTrack


working partners
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banktrack tweets
RT @CoalNewsBlog: Greenpeace calls for ban on coal power - NL Times https://t.co/hK6aFPps5f #coal
Jul 26, 2016
From same report. Yet Citi & all other top banks still ingloriously wedded to coal. *Something* is holding them back https://t.co/teV7YxIAa3
Jul 25, 2016
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