The coal industry is trying to move forward with a deal that would threaten Australia’s treasured Great Barrier Reef and turbocharge climate change—but they can’t do it without major financial backing. Three of the biggest Wall Street investment banks have said they won’t fund the deal.1 But Bank of America won’t commit to staying away.
Right now, the coal industry is pushing an incredibly destructive plan: to build out one of the biggest coal ports in the world right in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef. A huge corporation called Adani is attempting to dredge 3 million cubic meters of seabed, wrecking part of the biggest stretch of coral reef in the world and one of the planet’s most biodiverse ecosystems.
The Great Barrier Reef is home to thousands of species, including the endangered Green Sea Turtle, and it’s a crucial area for humpback whales giving birth and raising their young. Expanding Abbot Point coal terminal and massively increasing dangerous coal ship traffic would put a global treasure—in fact, a protected World Heritage Site—at grave risk.
It would also cook the climate. The coal industry wants to build out Abbot Point so it can dig new mega-mines in a vast reserve called the Galilee Basin. That would double coal production in Australia, already the world’s second-biggest coal exporter. Unbelievably, in the midst of a climate emergency, Bank of America is considering bankrolling a carbon time-bomb on the scale of the Alberta tar sands.
Without the backing of major financial institutions, this deal cannot go ahead. Tell Bank of America to stay away from the Abbot Point coal port expansion.
For the last two months, RAN has been working behind the scenes, asking the biggest Wall Street investment banks to commit to not finance reef and climate destruction. An international coalition of environmental groups has joined the fight, and tens of thousands of you added your voices to a petition calling on Wall Street to stay away from this reckless deal.
Your pressure is working! In the last three weeks, we’ve won public commitments from three of the biggest Wall Street banks—Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, and Citigroup—to not finance the Abbot Point terminal expansion.
But Bank of America is still holding out. Tell them to commit: don’t fund a deal that would wreck the Great Barrier Reef and cook the climate!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 28, 2014
Claire Sandberg, email@example.com, 646-641-6431
RAN to Bank of America: Don’t Bankroll Reef Destruction
Australian coal port threatens global climate, Great Barrier Reef
San Francisco—Rainforest Action Network (RAN) called on Bank of America to rule out financing the controversial Abbot Point coal port in Queensland, Australia, a day after three major U.S. investment banks pledged to steer clear of the project. Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, and Goldman Sachs all assured RAN in writing that they would not finance the expansion of Abbot Point, but Bank of America has so far refused to take a position. The project would significantly harm the Great Barrier Reef--construction of the new port would require dredging part of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage area--and would drive global climate change by drastically increasing carbon emissions.
Earlier this year, Bank of America proclaimed that “society needs to transition from high-carbon to low-carbon energy, and the bank has a responsibility to accelerate this transition.” Last month, Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan reiterated the bank’s commitment to climate action when he spoke at the U.N. climate summit in New York. But Bank of America’s stated environmental position clashes starkly with the bank’s refusal to rule out bankrolling the expansion of Abbot Point.
“If Brian Moynihan’s public remarks on climate mean anything, then Bank of America needs to reject Abbot Point,” said RAN Climate and Energy Program Director Amanda Starbuck. “It’s unbelievable that in the midst of a climate emergency, Bank of America would even consider bankrolling a carbon bomb on the scale of the Alberta tar sands. On top of it, Abbot Point poses an immediate threat to one of the world’s most diverse ecosystems, the Great Barrier Reef. Bank of America needs to join the rest of its peers by rejecting this terrible project immediately.”
Building a new, larger export facility at Abbot Point is a key component of the plan to dramatically increase coal production in Australia’s Galilee Basin, one of the largest stores of carbon in the world. If the plan goes forward, Australia’s coal exports would likely double, and make the the country the number one coal exporter in the world. The proposed expansion has strong backing from the Australian government, but will require financial support from global investment banks to move ahead. Five major European banks (Deutsche Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland, HSBC, Barclays, and Credit Agricole) publicly ruled out investment in Abbot Point earlier this year after months of campaigning from an international coalition. That group was joined yesterday by U.S. banks Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, and Goldman Sachs, which all made public commitments under pressure from RAN.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 27, 2014
Claire Sandberg, firstname.lastname@example.org, 646-641-6431
Rainforest Action Network Applauds Move by U.S. Banks to Reject Australian Coal Port
Abbot Point coal export project presents dire threat to climate and to the Great Barrier Reef
San Francisco—Rainforest Action Network commended the move by leading U.S. investment banks to rule out financing the Abbot Point coal export project in Queensland, Australia. Under pressure from RAN, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, and JPMorgan Chase all issued written commitments—released publicly for the first time today—to not bankroll the controversial project, which would involve dredging part of the Great Barrier Reef.
“We’re pleased to see some of the biggest banks on Wall Street reject this destructive project that presents a grave threat to the Great Barrier Reef and to the global climate,” said RAN Climate and Energy Program Director Amanda Starbuck. “These banks have clearly taken a good look at the Abbot Point plan and decided that dredging a World Heritage Site to make way for coal ships is obviously a terrible idea.”
The chilly reception to Abbot Point from U.S. banks follows five major European banks (Deutsche Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland, HSBC, Barclays, and Credit Agricole) publicly ruling out investment in Abbot Point earlier this year after months of campaigning from an international coalition. BlackRock has also warned investors to steer clear of the project. This new move by major U.S. banks signals that the Adani Group and GVK may be unsuccessful in their bid to secure an estimated $26.5 billion in external financing necessary for the planned expansion of coal export facilities and associated mine and rail infrastructure.
Rainforest Action Network is campaigning to stop Abbot Point due to concerns over how terminal construction and operation would impact the Great Barrier Reef; building the terminal would require dredging an ecologically sensitive area of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. Additionally, if Abbot Point moves forward it could unlock one of the world’s largest untapped stores of carbon, the Galilee Basin, by providing critical export infrastructure. Nine new mega coal mines are currently planned for the Galilee Basin, five of which would be bigger than any coal mine currently operating in Australia. Galilee basin mines, if fully developed, would produce up to 330 million metric tons of coal per year for export, more than doubling Australia's exports. Australia is already the number two exporter of coal in the world.
“Stopping Abbot Point is a top priority for us, because this single project is the key to whether one of the largest stores of carbon on the planet, the Galilee Basin, stays in the ground where it belongs, or is sold on the global market and released into our atmosphere,” said Starbuck.
In the coming months, big Wall Street banks could finance the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef.
The Great Barrier Reef, off the coast of Australia, is the world's biggest stretch of coral reef and is probably the planet’s richest area in terms of animal diversity. It’s home to 1,500 species of fish, 400 kinds of coral, and at least 30 types of whales and dolphins—it’s an important area for humpback whales giving birth and raising their young. The reef is also a key habitat for two endangered—and beautiful—species: the green sea turtle and the dugong, or “sea cow.” And it’s a global treasure, a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site.1
Now the Great Barrier Reef is facing a massive threat. A huge corporation, Adani, wants to expand the Abbot Point coal terminal into the one of the world’s biggest coal ports, right in the middle of the reef World Heritage Area. To do that, they’re planning to dig up 3 million cubic meters of seabed, wrecking the habitat of thousands of species. Analysts project that, if the port is expanded, thousands more coal ships would pass through the reef each year, polluting the ocean as they go and posing a constant threat of catastrophic spills.
But the port can’t go forward unless Adani finds several big banks to fund their astonishingly reckless plan. Thanks to the efforts of a worldwide coalition of environmentalists, a number of European banks have pledged not to underwrite the project. So now the company is looking to Wall Street—and so far, the big U.S. banks haven’t yet committed to not financing the project.
There’s another reason we need to stop this plan, besides the acute threat to the reef: the Abbot Point port expansion would light the fuse on a carbon bomb on the scale of the Alberta tar sands. The port is a key piece of infrastructure in a coal industry plan to build a cluster of new mega-mines in a vast coalfield called the Galilee basin. Australia is already the world’s second-biggest coal exporter, and these new mines would double the country’s output. With the world hurtling toward devastating levels of global warming, the next few years are crucial for us to change the course of climate history, and the fight over Abbot Point is one that we have to win. We have the technology to meet our energy demand from clean, renewable sources—there’s no need to unlock these vast reserves of dirty coal for the sake of corporate profits.
Rainforest Action Network has a long track record of pressuring banks to quash dirty energy deals, and we’re already talking to the biggest players on Wall Street to push them not to bankroll the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef. We’re telling bank executives: destroying a World Heritage Site and cooking the climate for the sake of as little as a few million dollars in fees is not a good deal. But we can’t win in the boardroom unless Wall Street knows that this is one deal the public won’t let them get away with. In the coming months, Adani will be reaching out to the big banks to secure financing, so we need to raise our voices now.
Stand with RAN as we demand that Wall Street not destroy the Great Barrier Reef.
The coal industry is embarking on a project that would destroy the Great Barrier Reef by massively expanding a coal terminal and building new coal mines in eastern Australia. The resultant dredging and ship traffic would devastate this delicate ecosystem and global treasure. The climate impacts would be terrible as well -- doubling coal production in Australia, already one of the world's worst offenders in mining this dirty fossil fuel.
But the coal industry needs international bank funding to make their reckless new project happen. Several European banks have already made public commitments not to fund this horrifically destructive project. Stand with RAN as we push the big Wall Street banks to do the same.
Take action now, and tell Wall Street you won't stand for them destroying the Great Barrier Reef.
Add your voice!
Wall Street must not finance the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef by funding the coal industry’s reckless scheme to expand the Abbot Point coal terminal. The expansion would devastate a delicate ecosystem and lead to terrible damage to the climate. Make a public commitment not to fund this horrifically destructive project now!
We did it! We’ve won the first round in a fight against using U.S. tax dollars to finance the dirtiest coal projects around the world, thanks to an outpouring of opposition from environmental activists, including RAN members.
West Virginia Senator and “mouthpiece for the coal industry” Joe Manchin had sought to include a giveaway to Big Coal in legislation reauthorizing the federal Export-Import Bank. But Manchin backed down in the face of mounting pressure earlier this week, instead introducing a “clean” bill without the coal industry goodies.
This is big step in the right direction. Pushing public banks to scale back funding for coal is critical to Rainforest Action Network’s long-term goal of preventing the entire financial sector from bankrolling climate chaos. Public sector financing is one of the few areas on climate where the United States is leading the way, as a result of a new rule put in place last year by the Obama administration limiting the use of federal money to support dirty coal plants abroad.
That policy now remains in place, thanks in part to your advocacy. But Manchin looks determined to reintroduce his coal giveaway as an amendment in the coming months, and if he does we’ll need to raise our voices again. We’ll be watching — and we’ll be back in touch.
But let’s take a moment to celebrate! Thanks for standing up to Big Coal.
This week, Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) had this to say about the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed carbon pollution standards for power plants:
“You talk about terrorism — you can do it in a lot of different ways.”1
Here’s a good rule of thumb in political debate: when someone invokes terrorism out of the blue, you know they’ve lost the argument.
Because the environmental movement has it right — pollution from coal-fired power plants kills communities and cooks our climate. That’s why the EPA’s long-overdue carbon standards, announced last month, are so important.
This new rule is a welcome step, but we need more. Tell the EPA to strengthen its limits on carbon pollution from power plants.
We already limit arsenic, mercury, soot and other air pollution from power plants—but, until now, not carbon pollution. Power plants are the single largest source of carbon pollution in the United States. Setting the first-ever federal limits on carbon pollution is an essential step to address global warming and here at RAN we absolutely support a national carbon pollution standard.
No matter what the fossil fuel industry-funded politicians like Mike Kelly may say, communities across the nation are already seeing and feeling the impacts of global warming, from increased health risks like asthma attacks and lung disease, to devastating extreme weather events like Superstorm Sandy and wildfires across the American West. The science is clear: inaction will only increase these deadly and costly threats.
This is exactly why communities from Chicago to North Carolina, from New England to New Mexico, have spent years fighting to shut down the polluting power plants in their neighborhoods.
The EPA is now accepting public comments on its proposed rule. Write the EPA today—say we need a stronger rule for a stable climate!
To be clear, the proposed carbon pollution standard is just one step. To keep our climate stable, we must rapidly shift our energy production away from the highest-polluting fossil fuels and accelerate our transition to truly clean, renewable energy generation.
The proposed rule is not yet enough to slow global warming and not yet enough to inspire the world to make the necessary deep cuts in climate pollution. That is why we will be working hard next year to include much deeper cuts in the final rule.
We know that the coal industry and the politicians it funds will work to undermine this rule and doom communities to years of future pollution.
Together, we can meet our obligation to protect our climate for our children and future generations.
1. “Congressman Compares EPA’s New Climate Rule To Terrorism”, ThinkProgress, July 28, 2014.
West Virginia Democrat and “mouthpiece for the coal industry” Joe Manchin is trying to undo a new rule that would limit the use of U.S. tax dollars to finance dirty coal plants around the world. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is currently weighing whether or not to allow Manchin to attach his pro-coal amendment to existing legislation.
Tell Harry Reid: No U.S. tax dollars for dirty coal plants abroad!
It all has to do with a federal bank you've probably never heard of, the Export-Import Bank. The Export-Import Bank provides financing for U.S. businesses operating internationally, and up until now has been a huge funder of fossil fuel development around the globe. Under President Obama, the bank has financed more than $27 billion in international fossil fuel projects, compared with less than $2 billion in clean energy projects. So it was a big step forward when the White House announced plans last year to drastically restrict the bank’s support for coal plants abroad.
But now senators with deep ties to coal mining, led by Manchin, want to block the new rule from taking effect, and they’re threatening to hold up the bank’s reauthorization in Congress if they don’t get their way. If they succeed, it would send the wrong signal to the entire financial sector, undermine the president’s leverage to push other nations to adopt similar policies on coal finance, and have devastating impacts for local communities slated for development.
Tell Harry Reid: No concessions for Big Coal in the Export-Import Bank reauthorization!
It’s no surprise that senators in the pocket of Big Coal like Joe Manchin would try and block this modest and urgently-needed policy. Manchin is one of the top recipients of coal industry money in Congress today, and has a history of deep personal ties to coal companies: environmentalists in West Virginia report that Manchin has “been nothing but a mouthpiece for the coal industry his whole public life.”1
But it’s a disappointment to see the Democratic Senate leadership consider bowing to Manchin’s demands. Harry Reid has criticized Republicans for “denying reality” on climate change, and has said he won’t allow the GOP to hold this year’s interim budget hostage over Republican opposition to EPA action on carbon pollution. But it’s not enough for Reid to talk tough with his political opponents if he’s willing to entertain concessions to the fossil fuel industry to please members of his own party.
Right now, Senator Reid is leading negotiations over whether to allow Manchin’s pro-coal amendment into the final bill. We have a limited window to make sure Reid knows we’ll hold him accountable for whether our tax dollars are used to fuel climate change.
Tell Senate Majority Leader Reid not to back down on international coal finance.
Pushing public banks to scale back funding for coal is critical to Rainforest Action Network’s long-term goal of preventing the financial sector overall from bankrolling climate chaos. That’s why we can’t let a minority of coal loyalists undo the gains we’ve worked to achieve together. With a constantly shrinking amount of time left to stabilize atmospheric carbon and avert the worst impacts of climate change, we need Senator Reid to stand tall and uphold this long-overdue policy.
Add your voice now.
P.S. For more on this issue, check out my op-ed in The Hill, the influential Capitol Hill newspaper: "Will Harry Reid Undermine Obama's Climate Legacy?"
1. “Sen. Manchin Maintains Lucrative Ties to Family-Owned Coal Company”, New York Times, July 26, 2011.
The federal Export-Import Bank, which provides financing for U.S. businesses operating internationally, has up until now been a huge funder of global carbon emissions. Under President Obama, the bank has financed more than $27 billion in international fossil fuel projects, compared with less than $2 billion in clean energy projects. So it was a big step forward when the White House announced plans last year to drastically scale back the bank’s support for coal plants abroad.
But now Senators with deep ties to mining, led by West Virginia Democrat and “mouthpiece for the coal industry” Joe Manchin, want to block the new rule from taking effect, and they’re threatening to hold up the bank’s reauthorization in Congress if they don’t get their way. If they succeed, it would send the wrong signal to the entire financial sector, undermine the President’s leverage to push other nations to adopt similar policies on coal finance, and have devastating impacts for local communities slated for development.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is currently leading negotiations over whether to allow Manchin’s pro-coal amendment into the final bill. We have a limited window to make sure Reid knows we’ll hold him accountable for whether our tax dollars are used to fuel climate change.
Tell Harry Reid: No U.S. tax dollars for dirty coal plants abroad!
Last month I was in Chicago to attend the U.S. Climate Action Network’s national meeting. The keynote speaker was Gina McCarthy, head of the Environmental Protection Agency. Her speech focused on the agency's recently proposed carbon pollution standards, the first-ever rule to limit carbon pollution from power plants.
Gina made her presentation standing alongside this image, which made me smile:
It’s an image I know well because it depicts a protest that Rainforest Action Network organized in 2011, along with our friends at Little Village Environmental Justice Organization and some bold Chicago activists.
One morning, very early, we showed up at the Crawford Power Plant and climbed on top of a giant pile of coal to display a giant banner that reads "CLOSE CHICAGO’S TOXIC COAL PLANTS":
Our direct action that cold April morning was part of a multi-year campaign involving a huge coalition of Chicagoans to put pressure on the city of Chicago and the utility company, Midwest Generation, to retire their deadly "cloud factories".
Crawford was one of the last two remaining urban coal-fired power plants in the United States and their pollution was responsible for more than 40 deaths, 720 asthma attacks and 66 heart attacks annually.
I use the past tense because, thankfully, this coal plant has now been retired. And there is even better news: an exciting plan being formulated by a community/city partnership to regenerate the coal plant site with businesses that will offer good jobs to the local community in Little Village.
It is an inspiring example of what can happen when communities organize for a better future. But we still have more to do. We need to retire the remaining 356 coal plants in the United States, reduce our energy demands through efficiency measures and rapidly accelerate our transition to clean, renewable energy generation.
Please help make this a reality by taking action today! Send your comment to the EPA to demand a strengthened carbon emissions rule.