The Understory
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2015
THE BLOG OF THE RAINFOREST ACTION NETWORK
September 22, 2015
Five Reasons Why Morgan Stanley is RAN’s Next Target Bank on Coal Finance

Today, RAN announced our next bank target on coal financing: Morgan Stanley. With Bank of America and Credit Agricole already taking major steps away from financing coal and the Paris Climate Conference less than three months away, Wall Street banks are in a race against time to be on the right side of history on climate by dropping coal. Here are five key reasons why we’re targeting Morgan Stanley:

  1. Morgan Stanley continues to finance some of the worst of the U.S. coal industry - The bank maintains an eyebrow-raising roster of U.S. coal company clients. Its recent loans and bonds have flowed to operators of mountaintop removal coal mines such as Alpha Natural Resources that continue to blast off the tops of mountains and force communities in Appalachia to live with dangerous air and water pollution. And among operators of coal-fired power plants, Morgan Stanley’s clients include FirstEnergy, which is currently begging regulators to force customers to bail out its fleet of unprofitable coal plants.

  2. The bank’s finances the biggest corporate players in coal around the world - Earlier this year, Morgan Stanley helped Peabody Energy refinance a billion dollars worth of debt through the bond markets. Peabody is the world’s largest private sector coal mining company and produced 250 million tons of coal last year. The bank also finances Europe’s largest single emitter of carbon dioxide, the mining and power giant RWE. Last month, over a thousand activists occupied an RWE open-pit coal mine, halting coal production and spotlighting RWE as an example of a company that is incompatible with a low-carbon future.

  3. Even as other banks have taken steps away from financing for coal, Morgan Stanley is moving in the wrong direction - Eleven of the bank’s peer institutions in the U.S. and Europe have committed to cut financing for money-losing mountaintop removal coal mining, but Morgan Stanley continues to throw financial lifelines to mountaintop removal producers such as Alpha Natural Resources, leading a bond transaction for the soon-to-be-bankrupt company last year.

  4. The bank also finances coal companies that violate human rights - It’s inexcusable that nearly five years after the UN Human Rights Council published its Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, Morgan Stanley’s financing policy documents have major gaps on human rights. This year, the bank earned a human rights score just above failing in the 2015 Coal Finance Report Card based on its coal financing policies and practices. Morgan Stanley’s coal industry clients include Glencore, joint owner of the Cerrejon coal mine in Colombia, which has been involved with serious human rights violations against communities near the mine.

  5. Morgan Stanley has a hypocrisy problem on climate change - Even with its coal industry ties, the bank has not been shy in promoting itself as a sustainability leader. As bank executive Tom Nides said while promoting Morgan Stanley’s new Institute for Sustainable Investing, “Morgan Stanley is about being a market leader in sustainable investing, and that’s what we intend to do.” It’s time for the bank to start walking its talk on sustainability by cutting ties to the coal industry.

Help us tell Morgan Stanley to that with the Paris Climate Conference rapidly approaching, it’s past time to stop financing coal.

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