Groups to Bank of America: Don’t Finance Great Barrier Reef Destruction


October 30, 2014



Claire Sandberg, Rainforest Action Network,, 646-641-6431

Joe Smyth, Greenpeace, 831-566-5647,

Groups to Bank of America: Don’t Bankroll Reef Destruction

Australian coal port threatens global climate, Great Barrier Reef

San Francisco—An international coalition of groups called on Bank of America to rule out financing the controversial Abbot Point coal port in Queensland, Australia, days after three major U.S. investment banks pledged to steer clear of the project. Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, and Goldman Sachs all issued public-facing statements vowing not to 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.

“Not only do numerous reports show that the Galilee Basin projects are poor investments, but groups in India, such as Conservation Action Trust, have stated that exporting Australian coal to be burnt in India will threaten the health and livelihoods of people in India. These projects are not just bad for people, they are bad business.,” said Sierra Club International Campaign Representative Nicole Ghio.

“Smart investors understand that dumping money into speculative coal mining and export projects makes no sense, especially as the largest coal consuming countries begin to move away from coal to reduce air pollution and carbon emissions,” said Kelly Mitchell, Greenpeace USA energy campaign director, “The Abbot Point expansion would serve the interests of a shrinking and desperate coal industry, at the expense of one of the great natural treasures of the world. Bank of America should promise not to finance it, and avoid this risky and extremely controversial coal export proposal.”

“We’ve seen the world’s biggest banks in the U.S. and Europe abandon the Abbot Point Coal Port project one by one. These banks understand that financing the project would devastate the Great Barrier Reef and unleash one of the world’s largest stores of carbon. Bank of America needs to act responsibly, and commit to not financing the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef as well,” said Paul Ferris, SumOfUs Campaigns Director.

“Bank of America has publicly stated its commitment to accelerate the transition from high-carbon to low-carbon energy societies,” said Alex Levinson, executive director of Pacific Environment. “But if it bankrolls the destructive Abbot Point coal port expansion, the only thing it will accelerate is global climate change.”

“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,” said RAN Climate and Energy Program Director Amanda Starbuck.

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.

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 issued public-facing statements as evidence of their commitments.