Pages tagged "jpmorganchase"

Time for France’s Biggest Bank to Stop Funding Mountaintop Removal Coal

This post is by Ben Collins of RAN and Yann Louvel of BankTrack.

The campaign to stop bank financing of mountaintop removal coal mining is gaining momentum.

For years, RAN and other organizations in the global BankTrack network have urged U.S. and European banks to stop financing the devastation caused by mountaintop removal (MTR) coal mining. BankTrack members have worked closely with advocates from Appalachia — the region hardest hit by MTR — including Paul Corbit Brown and Elise Keaton from Keeper of the Mountains, and Bob Kincaid from Coal River Mountain Watch. Together, they’ve travelled around the U.S. and Europe to speak directly to CEOs and boards of banks at their annual shareholder meetings and urge them to stop bankrolling mountaintop removal coal mining.

This week, we have an opportunity to push France’s biggest bank, Crédit Agricole, to stop profiting from MTR once and for all. At today’s annual shareholder meeting, Paul Corbit Brown and staff from Friends of the Earth France urged the bank’s CEO, Jean-Paul Chifflet, to follow the lead of other banks and stop funding the biggest and most destructive MTR companies.

Take action: Now’s the time to back them up — please add your voice now! GFC_MTR_crop 

Public pressure to stop funding MTR started showing results a few years ago. U.S. banks were the first to react in 2008, adopting a mix of enhanced due diligence procedures and financing thresholds for companies that engage in mountaintop removal. But real change started to happen last year, when Wells Fargo in the U.S., and Crédit Agricole and BNP Paribas in France, adopted new policies on MTR. These covered both direct project financing of MTR projects — which is pretty rare — and, more importantly, general corporate financing of coal mining companies active in MTR.

The implications of these new policies are potentially huge: the biggest and most harmful producers of MTR coal, such as Alpha Natural Resources and Arch Coal, raise their funding from general corporate loans from banks or from bonds or shares issued to investors. And these are precisely the transactions that should be excluded by these new policies, which bar financing for companies that are “significant” producers of MTR coal.

But we’ve learned that different banks define "significant" in wildly different ways. BNP Paribas blacklists the main companies active in MTR production, including Alpha and Arch. But Crédit Agricole — while its policy looks similar to BNP’s on paper — excludes only those coal mining companies that produce more than 20% of their coal from MTR. In practice, they aren’t prohibited from doing business with any MTR companies at all!

Take action: Will you tell Crédit Agricole Jean-Paul Chifflet to close the bank’s huge MTR loophole?

Crédit Agricole has financed several loan and bond deals for Alpha and Arch — the worst of the worst MTR companies — while BNP Paribas hasn’t done any deals with these two companies since last year. Ironically for Crédit Agricole, financing MTR has not only been bad for the environment and human rights — it’s also been a bad investment. The bank suffered significant financial losses from loans it made to recently-bankrupt MTR miner Trinity Coal.

In contrast to Crédit Agricole, other U.S. and European banks have taken concrete steps away from MTR financing this spring. Last month, JPMorgan Chase published an update of its environmental and social policy framework, stating that they expected to continue defunding companies engaged in mountaintop mining. And in the U.K., Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) published a mining policy update prohibiting deals with the main MTR producers. Unlike Crédit Agricole’s new policy, these policy changes at JPMorgan Chase and RBS have teeth: both banks will stop financing top MTR producers, including Alpha and Arch.

Today, our allies went straight to Crédit Agricole’s annual shareholder meeting to tell the bank’s CEO and board close its massive MTR loophole, and stop funding Alpha and Arch.

Take action: We have Crédit Agricole's attention — will you add your voice?

Yann Louvel, Climate and Energy Campaign Coordinator, BankTrack
Ben Collins, Research and Policy Campaigner, Rainforest Action Network

Extreme Coal - No Longer Business as Usual

Extreme Investments

For the first time since we began publishing coal finance report cards five years ago, we have an encouraging trend to report: Major banks have begun making noise about the growing financial risk associated with climate change—and specifically associated with coal, the top global contributor to carbon pollution.

On top of that, major banks have begun to cut ties with the biggest mountaintop removal (MTR) coal companies. This progress has exposed a growing gap between banks that are still sinking billions into coal, and those that are cutting ties with the worst-of-the-worst in the coal industry.

Today, RAN, the Sierra Club, and BankTrack released our 2014 Coal Finance Report Card, “Extreme Investments, Extreme Consequences,” which grades U.S. banks on their performance and policies related to coal-fired power and mountaintop removal coal mining. We also uncovered the top financiers of contentious coal export schemes like those in the Pacific Northwest and coal trains that transport dusty coal across the United States.

All told, banks sank over $31 billion into the worst companies in the coal industry last year, with $6.5 billion coming from Citigroup, the top funder of coal-fired power. However, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo began to phase out financing for MTR, earning our first ever “B” grades, and marking a positive trend away from the extreme mining practice.

Meanwhile, UK-based Barclays increased its exposure to MTR, financing $550 million for mountaintop removal coal companies last year, more than any other bank.

Environmental damage from mining, transporting, and burning coal—including health hazards like air pollution and water contamination from spills—doesn’t just harm communities and the environment, it costs banks money. In the report card, we highlight examples of this in case studies about the rising cost of clean-up for water contamination at mine sites, increases in coal company bankruptcies, and money-losing coal-fired power plants.

Download the 2014 Coal Finance Report Card

Download the 2014 Coal Finance Report Card.

The report comes on the heels of analyst publications from Goldman Sachs, HSBC and Citigroup last year, each of which challenged the case for continued investment in the coal industry. These and other banks have acknowledged that power plant regulations, a potential price on carbon, and competition from renewable energy sources could “strand” assets such as coal mining, transport, and power generation facilities. With billions of dollars in loans on the line, it’s not a question of if climate risk will translate into financial risk, but when.

Ironically, these very same banks maintain deep financial ties to the riskiest and most environmentally destructive companies in the U.S. coal industry. As credit ratings for some coal mining companies sank farther below investment grade last year, banks continued to place bets on risky loans to the sector.

The report card warns banks that before the carbon bubble bursts onto their balance sheets, it will irreversibly destabilize the climate. So while we are happy to report that a few banks took the first steps to cut off financing to the worst-of-the-worst of the coal industry, the banking industry as a whole must now cut its losses and forge a path away from coal, before it’s too late for both them and us.

TAKE ACTION: Tell Barclays, the number one banker of mountaintop removal, to end its support of destroying mountains and poisoning communities for coal.

Breakthrough: JPMorgan Chase Dropping Mountain Destruction

This could be the tipping point for the horrific practice of Mountaintop Removal coal mining. Just this week, JPMorgan Chase updated its environmental policy, revealing that it will be ending financial relationships with Mountaintop Removal coal mining companies. Wells Fargo and BNP Paribas/Bank of the West have recently taken similar steps. If the other major banks commit to stop financing mountaintop removal, fossil fuel companies will have no choice but to end the obliteration of mountains and poisoning of communities for coal. That's why thousands of people are joining Rainforest Action Network to tell Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to stop financing Mountaintop Removal coal mining! [caption id="attachment_23642" align="alignnone" width="500"]MTR Site Photo: Vivian Stockman, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition[/caption] Mountaintop Removal (MTR) is a mining practice that uses explosives to literally blow the tops off mountains for the coal inside. The rubble is then pushed into streams and poisons the water supply for thousands of people. This is morally unacceptable and why many, many local communities in Appalachia, along with activists around the world, are taking a stand against MTR. For more than five years, Rainforest Action Network members like you have demanded JPMorgan Chase and other banks drop MTR financing. And while we’ll have to remain vigilant to ensure JPMorgan Chase stays on the path away from MTR, the bank’s new policy demonstrates that your activism is working. JPMorgan Chase will no longer be doing business with companies like Alpha Natural Resources—the worst of the worst when it comes to MTR. Last month, the EPA issued Alpha the largest water pollution discharge penalty in the history of the Clean Water Act. The company also faces ten lawsuits over water pollution at its MTR mines.; JPMorgan Chase, the largest bank in the United States, shows that the smart money is leaving companies like Alpha Natural Resources. Other major banks do not want to be singled out for continuing to support environmental destruction and poisoning communities. TAKE ACTION: Tell the banks to drop Alpha Natural Resources and adopt a policy to phase out MTR financing. Our movement is truly turning the tide against MTR. Companies like Alpha Natural Resources need financing from big banks to continue the destruction. If we make sure the banks can’t hide their responsibility for keeping MTR alive, we can force them to act to protect their image. JPMorgan Chase is acting to protect its image right now by moving out of MTR financing. Let’s use that momentum. Send the banks a message today and help end Mountaintop Removal coal mining once and for all.

Coal India Threatens Communities and Forests

Coal Mining IndiaThis summer, the RAN energy team has been casting our eyes around the globe and researching the impact that coal mining is having on deforestation. One of the regions that we are most concerned about is in India, where more than 1.1million hectares of forest are threatened by the expansion of open-pit coal mining. Open-pit mining entails clear-felling of forests, with impacts on forest-dependent communities, as well as endangered species such as tigers, leopards and elephants. The vast majority of Indian coal mining is carried out by the state-owned company Coal India Limited (CIL). CIL has a serious record of corruption, legal violations, water and air pollution, and a poor safety and labor rights record to boot. That’s why RAN was alarmed to discover that several major U.S. banks are considering underwriting an upcoming share offer by CIL. This week, along with our allies at Greenpeace India, we wrote to Bank of America, Citi and Goldman Sachs to alert them to CIL’s poor record and to politely request that these banks stay clear of doing business with this environmental and human rights offender.

Seven of Bloomberg's Top Ten "Greenest Banks" Are Climate Killers

BloombergGlobalWarmingA Guest blog-post by Yann Louvel, BankTrack's Climate and Energy Campaign Coordinator This week, Bloomberg published the results of its third annual ranking of the “world’s greenest banks”: Citi was ranked first, followed by Santander and JPMorgan. The study assesses banks based on their lending to clean-energy projects and reduction in their own power consumption and carbon footprints. However, banks’ support for dirty energy, such as fossil fuel and nuclear power, is notably absent from Bloomberg’s methodology. When the value of banks’ finance for fossil fuels so often dwarfs their investments in renewables, Bloomberg’s data does not even tell half of the story. Measuring the Good, Ignoring the Bad One question mark over Bloomberg’s ranking is its definition of “clean energy”, and in particular its inclusion of hydropower (including large environmentally and socially destructive dam projects) and biomass/biofuels in this definition. But the fundamental problem with its approach lies in the complete omission of banks’ investments in fossil fuels and nuclear energy.  While banks’ growing investments in green energy are to be welcomed, it is even more crucial that investments in fossil fuels drop drastically in the coming years if we are to have a chance of avoiding catastrophic global warming. The ratio of green to "brown" investments would provide a meaningful study on the level of “greenness” of a bank, but looking at clean investments alone makes this little more than a PR exercise for the banking sector. To give a concrete example of this problem, BankTrack, together with urgewald, Groundwork and Earthlife Africa, released the “Bankrolling Climate Change” report in Durban in 2011. The report is an investigation into the coal investments of the world’s leading banks. We looked at the funding of 93 international banks in 71 coal companies between 2005 and 2011 to identify the “top 20 climate killer banks” in the world. The results show a significant overlap between Bloomberg’s “world’s greenest banks” and the top 20 climate killer banks. In fact, seven of Bloomberg’s top ten appear in the “Climate Killer” list.
Bloomberg’s “World’s Greenest Banks”
Name Bloomberg rating (2012) Climate Killer Banks rating (2011)
Citigroup 1 2
Santander 2 -
JP Morgan Chase 3 1
Mitsubishi UFJ Finance Group 4 17
Credit Suisse Group 5 9
Goldman Sachs 6 11
Deutsche Bank 7 6
Mizuho Financial Group 8 -
Lloyds Banking Group 9 -
Barclays 10 5
  Citi, which tops Bloomberg’s list, was rated the number two climate killer bank, and JPMorgan, our number one climate killer bank, is Bloomberg’s number three. Citi’s investments in the coal industry grew by 40% between 2005 and 2010 as the bank poured more than €13 billion into the coal industry. Citi’s profile on the BankTrack website links the bank to the controversial Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, as well as mountaintop removal coal mining and the controversial Alpha Coal project in Australia, expected to directly and negatively impact the Great Barrier Reef. This makes the “Greenest Bank in the World” tag a little hard to swallow. Environmental Direct-Impact, Back to Sustainability Pre-History Another disturbing aspect of Bloomberg’s methodology is that “reductions in air emissions and water use and gains in energy efficiency” account for a full 30 percent of the score. These are banks’ “direct” impacts, e.g. their own use of energy for electricity and office heating. If this approach would have been understandable in the 1990s, it seems extremely dated in 2013, to say the least. Numerous studies, particularly from NGOs including many from BankTrack members and partners in the past few years, have clearly demonstrated that banks’ primary environmental impacts are result from their core activities – their lending and investments - rather than through their “direct” impacts. While the sustainability debate in the banking sector started ten or twenty years ago with these direct impacts, the trend since then has been towards looking at the issues that matter: the impacts of banks’ finance. Methodologies for measuring these ‘financed emissions’ already exist, and BankTrack has long called on banks to report on these impacts systematically. Management and reduction of direct impacts should be considered a ‘hygiene factor’ for banks, rather than a core issue. When Bloomberg reports that JPMorgan, which invested more than €16 billion in the coal industry between 2005 and 2011, “revamped its Park Avenue headquarters in New York, where energy-saving lights now dim automatically and a 54,000-gallon basement tank collects rain for flushing toilets and watering plants”, one has to wonder if it is looking down its telescope backwards. Stop The Greenwashing By avoiding mention of fossil fuels and nuclear energy, and by giving undue weight to banks’ direct impacts, Bloomberg’s “greenest banks” methodology is fundamentally, and it would seem deliberately, flawed. (BankTrack and partners Rainforest Action Network and urgewald already raised these concerns in a letter to Bloomberg last year). The results of this study will now be used by the “world’s greenest banks” in their marketing and public relations material - a generous but undeserved gift to banks which are ploughing billions into environmentally destructive projects. This is a shame when there remain plenty of opportunities for Bloomberg, banks, analysts and other stakeholders to examine bank’s investments in fossil fuels, nuclear power, and their financed emissions. BankTrack will continue to denounce such greenwashing exercises in the coming months and years.

Wall Street Flees Wall Street

via The GuardianWall Street is scared shitless. They’d never admit it, but the way the big Wall Street banks are rapidly relocating their annual shareholder meetings from the concrete canyons of Midtown and lower Manhattan this shareholder season to points south, north and west means that fear is not only visible, you can smell it on them like retched dead sea life.
  • JPMorgan Chase moved to Tampa, Florida, home of a new burgeoning police state preparing for rowdy anti-Republican National Convention protests in August.
  • Citibank moved to Dallas, Texas, hardly a bastion of organized progressive or radical populations.
  • Morgan Stanley is holding its meeting in quiet upstate New York.
  • Wells Fargo is staying well clear of NYC in San Francisco.
  • Bank of America is bunkering down in Charlotte, NC, home of the other pre-political convention police state.
  • And Goldman Sachs, that giant vampire squid sucking on the face of America? They’ve yet to announce the details of their annual meeting. But odds are they won’t be within walking distance of Zucotti Park.
The return of Occupy Wall Street (OWS) has forced the Masters of the Financial Universe’s hand. Up until three weeks ago, pundits in the corporate media joined the political and business establishment in declaring that OWS was dead. The crackdowns coordinated by the Dept. of Homeland Security had systematically ended occupations from coast to coast. Corporate America was hoping to quietly return to the business of raping and pillaging the American public. But they don’t get it. OWS was only waiting for the Spring. And spring has sprung! Now it’s on. Sizable shareholder meeting protests are shaping up in Charlotte and San Francisco. An important lesson for the banks: Last year, JPMorgan Chase moved its meeting from New York to Columbus, Ohio in an attempt to stem protests. But thousands still turned out in protest at the Chase meeting. It’s not the location that brings people out, it’s the outrage. And people are pissed at the banks for wrecking the economy, kicking people out of their homes, poisoning communities and blowing up Appalachia’s mountains, while taking home big fat bonus checks and laying off tens of thousands of their own employees. This year, these protests are going to be bigger, bolder and more sophisticated in their strategies and tactics. Watch out Wall Street: You can run, but you can’t hide

Top 10 Dirty Corporate Tax Dodgers of 2011

Two weeks ago it was announced that the U.S. has the highest corporate tax rate in the world sparking furious debate from Fox News types concerned about corporate well being. At RAN, we decided to dig a little deeper to see whether the corporate tax rate really is unfairly penalizing multi billion dollar corporations. Our discovery? The actual corporate tax rate may not matter when corporations don’t pay anything close to it anyway. RAN’s new “Top 10 Dirty Corporate Tax Dodgers of 2011” infographic reviewed top bank, oil and coal companies: Bank of America, Citi, JPMorganChase, Wells Fargo, Chevron, Exxon, ConocoPhillips, Arch Coal, Alpha Natural Resources and Peabody Energy. We found that none of these ten companies paid anything close to the 35% corporate tax rate. In fact, Bank of America and Alpha Natural Resources paid no taxes at all. Collectively, these ten corporations made a profit of $189.178 billion while only paying $13.34 billion in taxes in 2011. If they had paid the 35% corporate tax rate it would have put $52.87 billion back into the economy. It begs the question, what do the rest of us get while the government allows big business to game the system?

The Top Ten Dirty Corporate Tax Dodgers of 2011 Infographic

Here’s a bit more of the wonky details from U.S. News and World Report:
“The real issue lies in understanding the huge gap between the "nominal rate" (the list price) and the "real rate" (the tax rate that most companies actually pay.) These two rates diverge widely. The nominal federal tax rate on the largest corporations is now 35 percent. State taxes, on average, bump this to 39.2 percent. This nominal rate ranks as the highest among developed countries. However, no major company really pays the nominal rate. Big companies enjoy a huge buffet of credits, shelters, deductions, and other preferences that reduce their rate to an average of 13 percent. Many profitable companies pay no federal income tax at all. Regardless of our nominal rate, our real corporate tax rate is among the lowest.”
The ten banks, oil and coal companies that RAN researched are responsible for foreclosing on millions of people’s homes and polluting our air, water and climate. At the same time, we found that they pay next to nothing into a tax system that provides the very services that protect the homeless, the sick and our environment. Bottom-line, these dirty corporations don’t need any more handouts, bailouts, or subsidies. Our country does not have a money problem; it has a priorities problem. We’re subsidizing and bailing out multi billion dollar businesses at the expense of everything else: our economy, our climate, our health, and our future. Here's two things you can do about: 1. Tell President Obama; it's time corporate tax dodgers pay their fair share! 2. Join the 99%Power in taking direct action with thousands upon thousands to shine a light on the exact corporate actors who created this historically unjust economy. Under the banner of 99% Power, there will be more demonstrations leading up to and at corporate shareholder meetings this Spring than at any point in American history.

Who's Bankrolling AEP, the Coal Company Lobbying for More Coal?

Coal moneyAmerican Electric Power Company, more commonly known as AEP, has been in the news lately. The banks providing funds to this dirty energy purveyor haven't received as much scrutiny, however. Let's fix that, shall we? Earlier this month, AEP announced that upcoming EPA clean air regulations (which have now been announced) may mean that the company will need to close 25% of their coal fleet. This proclamation was of course meant to scare legislators into taking the EPA's power to enforce the Clean Air Act away. Then news broke that AEP is putting its money where its mouth is — lots of money.  AEP spent a reported $2 million lobbying in the 1st quarter of 2011. $2 million in just 3 months!!! The New York Times responded to AEP  in an editorial blasting the company for misleading the public about impacts of EPA regulations, bullying the agency, and failing to address real concerns about its aging coal fleet. The EPA also responded during a US Senate hearing by clarifying that most of AEP's plant closures won't be because of the EPA, they will be because AEP's fleet is too old to compete in energy markets. Over the past month, AEP has demonstrated that it is a coal company that is willing to lie to the public and spend millions to influence politicians and erode the ability of democratic institutions such as the EPA that were created to ensure clean air and water for all Americans. Which leads me to wonder, which banks are behind AEP? A quick look at AEP's financing shows that in the past 2 years (since June 2009) several banks have provided large sums of money in the form of bond underwriting to AEP. Some of the most interesting include*:
  • Barclays Bank provided $300 million
  • UBS provided $190 million
  • Morgan Stanley provided $175 million
  • Citi and JP Morgan Chase each provided $87.5 million
  • Wells Fargo and Credit Suisse each provided $75 million
All of these banks should cut ties with AEP. Financing a company like AEP that undermines democracy and burns climate-killing coal is irresponsible at best. * All research is sourced from Bloomberg

Join the Dirty Banks “Tour of Shame” at Powershift

Dirty Energy is Over Going to Powershift? Want to stop Big Coal and Big Oil? Aren’t you tired of how Wall Street literally gets away with murder? Then put a little “action” in your life with Rainforest Action Network (action is our middle name, after all.) Please join RAN and friends on Saturday April 16th at 1:00pm outside the DC Convention Center (you can RSVP on Facebook). We’ll lead a “Tour of Shame” through the surrounding business district and take creative direct action against  financiers of dirty energy companies like Arch Coal, Peabody Energy, ExxonMobil, and the coal companies responsible for the destruction of Appalachia’s mountains. Just recently, Portland Rising Tide and 100 Powershift students did the same thing at Bank of America and Wells Fargo branches in downtown Portland. Looks like fun, doesn’t it? [youtube 0DDoqQ7hRIU] Here’s the official invite if you want to tell your friends:
Dirty Energy is Over, Fund the Future Join Us and Put Wall Street on Notice: No More Money for Dirty Coal and Tar Sands Join our campaign to stop the financing of coal and tar sands by Wall Street. Coal and tar sands are the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in North America — causing catastrophic climate change, poisoning communities with toxic pollutants and destroying eco-systems with destructive extraction. Join Rainforest Action Network for our banks “Tour of Shame” as we call out the corporate finance behind dirty coal and oil extraction WHEN: Saturday, April 16th at 1pm WHERE: Meet in front of the DC Convention Center at 7th and Mt. Vernon NW CONTACT: Scott at; 415-235-0596 Big Banks — Bank of America, Citi, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, PNC Bank and Morgan Stanley — raise billions of dollars for the fossil fuel industry every year. It’s time for Wall Street to take responsibility in how their investments affect public health and the climate. Join us on Saturday afternoon and demand a transition in energy financing from dirty coal to clean energy solutions like wind and solar.

New Mountaintop Removal Report Card: Which Banks Made the Grade

Mountaintop Removal report card 2011 coverIt's way past time for the world's banks to stop funding the wholesale destruction of Appalachia's ecosystems. Rainforest Action Network and the Sierra Club released the 2011 Mountaintop Removal Report Card today. The report card exposes relationships between 10 of the biggest banks in the world and the top companies practicing mountaintop removal mining in central Appalachia. Some of the findings:
  • Since January 2010, Bank of America, Citi, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, GE Capital, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, PNC, UBS and Wells Fargo together provided more than $2.5 billion in loans and bonds to MTR companies.
  • The top three financiers of MTR are PNC, Citi and UBS.
  • Of the 10 banks in the report, Wells Fargo and Credit Suisse have the strongest MTR policies.
Since 2010's MTR report card was released last spring, five banks released policies addressing mountaintop removal: JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, PNC, UBS and Credit Suisse. The MTR report card has served as an excellent tool for RAN to engage with executives at the biggest banks and help them move away from financing the devastating practice of mountaintop removal. We hope that this year's report will continue to pressure the biggest financiers of mountaintop removal to develop meaningful policies limiting their exposure to MTR mining companies, and to push banks with existing policies to make them stronger. You can send a wake-up call to banks and call on them to stop funding the horrendously destructive practice of mountaintop removal by sending them our new video, "Mountaintop Removal: An American Tragedy," which shows exactly what they're bankrolling.

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