Often referred to as MTR, mountaintop removal is a horrendous practice that destroys mountains, poisons water supplies and hurts communities. That's why more than 19,000 Rainforest Action Members have sent messages to Barclays demanding the drop MTR financing and is one reason protests confronted the banks annual share holder meeting in London this week.
Barclays executives should take a good long look at these photos. Maybe then they'll stop investing in mountain destruction.
MTR uses explosives to literally blow off the tops of mountains and get the coal underneath.
Hundreds of thousands of acres of beautiful mountains and forest are being destroyed in central Appalachia by companies using MTR.
The rubble from mountaintop removal mining is then pushed into valleys where local streams and water sources are contaminated.
Hundreds of families have had their wells destroyed by nearby mining practices. Cancer, birth defects, heart and long disease and shortened life spans plague communities near MTR sites.
The difference between contaminated and clean water can be stark. It is time for Barclays to get on the right side of history and stop financing companies that poison water.
Photos by Paul Corbit Brown.
This year’s grades for the banks that finance the worst coal companies are in, and they’re not pretty.
Financing companies that use mountaintop removal (MTR) coal mining practices puts communities, the environment, and bank shareholders at risk. But last year, several banks continued to hand billions of dollars to top producers of mountaintop removal coal--earning themselves a big fat failing grade on our new report card—even while grassroots pressure has moved some of their competitors in the right direction.
The biggest failure is Barclays, the British banking giant and #1 financier of MTR coal last year.
Coal financing isn’t rocket science, and the smart money is already getting out of MTR. By speaking out, you’ve made MTR financing a huge blemish for a big bank’s public image. Your activism has made U.S. and European banks, including JPMorgan Chase and BNP Paribas, cut ties with the worst MTR coal companies last year.
While some banks are learning that MTR coal is bad for business, today’s publication of our Coal Finance Report Card exposes Barclay's as the slowest bank to grasp that lesson. It is financing a public health and environmental disaster, blowing up mountains and poisoning water with waste.
But we can move Barclay’s just like we are moving JPMorgan Chase and BNP Paribas.
|Bloomberg’s “World’s Greenest Banks”|
|Name||Bloomberg rating (2012)||Climate Killer Banks rating (2011)|
|JP Morgan Chase||3||1|
|Mitsubishi UFJ Finance Group||4||17|
|Credit Suisse Group||5||9|
|Mizuho Financial Group||8||-|
|Lloyds Banking Group||9||-|
BankTrack welcomes any initiative by the financial sector that unequivocally acknowledges the inherent value of nature, as well as the limits posed to their business activities by the environmental carrying capacity of the earth. We equally welcome any sufficiently ambitious, credible initiative of the sector to factor this fundamental recognition into their business and investment decisions. BankTrack considers the Natural Capital Declaration not such an initiative, but a false and disturbing response of the financial sector to the profound ecological crises of today. It is based upon a fatally flawed understanding of the root causes of these crises (imperfect valuation of ‘Natural Capital and Ecosystem Services’) and proposes an equally flawed solution to them (proper pricing). The Declaration claims the fundamental right of business, and the adopting institutions in particular, to enter every realm of nature and the environment and to identify, price and subsequently market whatever ‘stock’ and ‘service’ can be identified there, under the pretext that this commodification process will help end the ongoing plunder and exploitation of nature. As such, the Declaration is another attempt to promote the liberal, market based ‘green economy’ model sought by business as outcome of the Rio conference. BankTrack believes that the manifold ecological crises need a wholly different response: instead of expanding the scope of markets to every domain of nature, creating a true green economy would start from the opposite; reversing the tide of commodification and financialization, reducing the role of markets and the financial sector, acknowledging the limits of business versus other spheres of life, and recognizing the collective responsibility of all people for, and strengthening the democratic control over the worlds’ ecological commons. Rather than a Natural Capital Declaration we need more Nature without Capital. Instead of launching a vaguely worded voluntary initiative with no immediate discernible impact on everyday investment decisions, we call upon the financial sector to withdraw itself from where it has no rightful place, to adopt strict no-go standards for all business activities that wreak havoc upon nature, climate, the environment and people, and to throw its full weight behind those sectors and initiatives that help preserve, protect and restore the life giving capacity of the earth.
- In December 2011 Goldman Sachs was ranked the 11th worst 'Climate Killer' bank in terms of global coal financing in the ‘Bankrolling Climate Change’ report by BankTrack
- Goldman Sachs owns a majority share in SSA Marine, the company that is planning to build the west coast's largest coal export terminal in Bellingham, Washington, threatening the critical ecosystem of Cherry Point Reach
- In 2010 and 2011, Goldman Sachs underwrote seven of the most polluting utility companies that operate fleets of coal-fired power plants, the single largest source of climate pollution in the U.S.
- Goldman Sachs owns and operates the Cedar Bay coal-fired power plant in Florida, which emitted 1.8 million tonnes of CO2 in 2011.
The report also devotes a section to its "Creative financing solutions to protect and preserve the Great Barrier Reef", directly quoting the IPCC's ominous prediction that "by 2020, if nothing was done, as much as 60% of the Reef would bleach every second year". If Goldman Sachs is truly serious about saving the Reef and our climate, then the first obvious step is to get out of bed with the coal industry, and to set some serious financed-emissions reduction targets.