Wall Street is listening — banks must drop coal!

posted by Benjamin Collins


In just six months, four of the six biggest U.S. banks have committed to cut financing for coal mining: Bank of America, Citi, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo.

That’s excellent news for the climate and for communities around the world. And just one year ago it would have been unthinkable. Your actions made this happen! There’s much more to do in the fight against climate change. But for now, help us share the good news:

In May, Bank of America committed to cutting funding for coal mining—after four years of strategic pressure from you and your fellow activists. Looking back, we know the BofA announcement was a hard-earned tipping point in the financial sector. Just this week, RAN supporters like you forced Morgan Stanley’s hand as part of a sharp, focused campaign—RAN’s most recent push to hold banks accountable for their fossil fuel lending.2 All along, we were working behind the scenes for change across the entire banking sector. Eventually, Citigroup and Wells Fargo felt enough heat that they had to move too.

That’s remarkable progress in a very short time. You made it happen. Thank you!

This is a global campaign. Since May, our friends at BankTrack, Friends of the Earth-France, and urgewald have won similar policies at European banks BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole, ING, Natixis, and Société Générale. On both sides of the Atlantic, banks are getting the message: coal means climate change and human rights violations. It’s past time for them to stop cashing in on the climate crisis.

Today, I’m writing to you from the Paris climate summit, where RAN and our allies are continuing this fight. Together, we’re launching a new report analyzing the coal financing of the world’s largest banks. The Coal Test: Where Banks Stand on Climate at COP 21 is part of the global Paris Pledge campaign, pushing banks to end financing for coal altogether.

While we’re encouraged by the progress we’ve made, there’s much more to do. The report profiles some of the banks in the U.S. and Europe that are taking positive steps—we call them “Frontrunners”. But there are no “True Leaders” on climate yet among big banks—we have more work to do before any major firm phases out coal financing entirely. And while we welcome these banks’ new commitments, they’re coming late in the day: since the Copenhagen climate summit in 2009, the big banks have financed coal to the tune of $257 billion—an astonishing quarter-trillion dollars in the last six years alone.

Time is short. This year, global warming reached one degree Celsius. That means we are already perilously close to seeing the worst effects of runaway climate change. Coal is simply the dirtiest, most carbon-intensive fossil fuel on the planet. We need to make it a thing of the past as quickly as possible.

So, with your help, we’ll keep the pressure on. But the rapid progress we’ve made in just the last six months is a ray of hope. Thank you for making it happen.