MAC: Mines and Communities

Protests over bank investment in coal

Published by MAC on 2013-05-21
Source: Les Amis de la Terre, Friends of the Earth Scotland, Urgewald

BNP Paribas AGM: stop funding coal!

Les Amis de la Terre Press Release

15 May 2013

Paris - BNP Paribas is holding its annual general shareholders' meeting (AGM) today in Paris. Les Amis de la Terre (Friends of the Earth France) is challenging the bank's top executives, who present BNP Paribas as a "responsible bank", on its polluting investments in the coal industry. Les Amis de la Terre calls on BNP Paribas to stop its dodgy investments with disastrous environmental and social impacts, particularly in "mountaintop removal" (MTR), an extreme form of surface coal mining taking place in the United States. This technique will soon be included in a sectoral policy by Crédit Agricole.

After Société Générale and Crédit Agricole last year, Les Amis de la Terre is challenging this year BNP Paribas on its investments in the coal industry at its AGM today in Paris. According to the report "Bankrolling Climate Change" (1), published end of 2011 by BankTrack, the international network of which Les Amis de la Terre is a member, BNP Paribas ranks number one as top climate killer French bank in the world. Yann Louvel, climate and energy campaign coordinator for BankTrack, explains: "Between 2005 and 2010, BNP Paribas invested more than 10 billion euros in the coal industry, more than the combined amounts invested by Société Générale and Crédit Agricole during the same period. BNP Paribas is then the eighth climate killer bank in the world and the first French one in the "top 20 climate killer banks" ranking presented in the report".

As last year, les Amis de la Terre is not alone in this AGM. Paul Corbit Brown, campaigner for the US NGO "Keeper of the Mountain" is coming to denounce the impacts of Mountaintop Removal (MTR) in the United States. MTR is an extreme form of coal mining which destroys with explosives up to 300 meters of the top of the Appalachians in several US states, to reach the coal seams underneath. Paul Corbit Brown comments on these impacts: "There is nothing ethical about mountaintop removal. It permanently destroys air, water, soil, communities and people's health. It has brought nothing but poverty and sickness to the communities in my home state."

Malika Peyraut, Les Amis de la Terre campaigner, denounces: "BNP Paribas is involved in the funding of several companies practicing MTR. It participated these past few years to the issuance or exchange of bonds from ArcelorMittal and Arch Coal, worth hundreds of million euros. It also contributed to several loans to Mechel Oao and Metinvest for a total of several billion US$. BNP Paribas needs to stop these banking activities by adopting a sectoral policy excluding this type of activity. Crédit Agricole is already preparing such a policy: BNP Paribas also needs to act now!".

Yann Louvel concludes: "Beyond MTR, BNP Paribas must facilitate the energy transition and replace its investments in fossil fuels with investments in energy efficiency and renewables. To track this evolution, we ask BNP Paribas to publish annually the ratio of its investments between those two sectors as well as the calculation and reduction of its financed emissions. Such a comparison would be way more useful than the sole promotion of the renewables projects it finances, which looks like pure greenwash. Rather than praising itself as a "responsible bank" by funding research projects on climate change, it is time BNP Paribas reduces its own contribution to climate change by immediately ending its investments in the sectors wrecking havoc on the climate, such as coal."

(1) The report is available on this page (

** Immediate reaction following the AGM **

As an answer to Les Amis de la Terre question, Baudoin Prot, president of BNP Paribas group, just announced the imminent publication of a sectoral policy for the mining sector. This policy would include criteria dealing with "mountaintop removal", the form of coal mining Paul Corbit Brown came to denounce today. Whether this is good news will depend on the criteria included in this policy, resulting in no less than a complete exclusion of this sector.

Even so, BNP Paribas will still have to reduce its overall investments in the coal industry, publish the ratio of its financing in the fossil fuels vs renewables sectors and calculate and reduce its financed emissions. Les Amis de la Terre will continue to pressure them on these goals.

Further information and interviews
Caroline Prak, Les Amis de la Terre, +33 1 48 51 32 22 / +33 6 86 41 53 43

About Les Amis de la Terre
Friends of the Earth France is a non-profit environmental and human rights network, independent from any religious or political influence. Friends of the Earth France forms a local network gathering 30 autonomous local groups that act according to their own priorities and support the national and international campaigns with a shared vision for social and environmental justice.

Environmentalists expose RBS toxic mountain investment

Friends of the Earth Scotland press release

14 May 2013

Edinburgh - RBS has financed corporations involved in Mountaintop Removal, one of the most drastic methods of coal mining, to the tune of $362.5m despite acknowledging the devastating impacts of the process, Friends of the Earth Scotland can reveal.

Mountaintop Removal literally blasts the tops off mountains to access thin layers of coal. Communities in the Appalachian Mountains in the USA where the technique has been pioneered report high incidences of severe health problems linked to the toxins released from the coal.

Paul Daly, Corporate Accountability Campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland said:

"Despite the greenwash, RBS are still financing corporations that carry out devastating practices like Mountaintop Removal, threatening the local environment and fuelling climate change globally.

"The scale of these operations is enormous with over 500 mountains levelled to date. This is like Scotland sacrificing all of its Munros to the fossil fuel industry.

"In the Appalachian Mountains explosives equivalent to that used in one Hiroshima bomb are detonated each week.

"Scotland has plentiful renewable energy resources and RBS as a publicly owned bank should lead the way in financing the transition to a true green economy."

Paul Corbit Brown, Campaigner from Keeper of the Mountain said:

"There is nothing ethical about mountaintop removal. It permanently destroys air, water, soil, communities and people's health. It has brought nothing but poverty and sickness to the communities in my home state."


Notes to Editors
1. RBS finance mountaintop removal by $362m . Read our case study at
2. Between 2007 and 2009, RBS led the underwriting of more than $7.5bn worth of loans to multinational oil companies mining tar sands in Canada
3. Between 2010 and 2012, RBS helped finance fossil fuel companies (underwriting share and bond issues, and financing loans) to the tune of £35.5 billion
4. Between 2005 and 2011 RBS bankrolled coal mining and power generation companies with £9.4 billion of finance.
5. RBS previously exposed for financing tar sands and is still pumping money into tar sand development
6. most recently RBS has funding the Enbridge Northern Gateway tar sands pipeline to the tune of $131.25 million
7. RBS ranked 8th biggest global investor in 20 biggest coal mining operations
8. RBS should be financing the transition to a true green economy - one that does not include finance for false renewable solutions like biomass or biofuel projects

Friends of the Earth Scotland is:
For media enquiries, please contact:
Per Fischer, Press Office, Friends of the Earth Scotland
t: 0131 243 2715

NGOs criticise poor performance new leadership Deutsche Bank

Urgewald - Facing Finance - OXFAM -Dachverband der Kritischen Aktionärinnen und Aktionäre statement

22 May 2013

Berlin - A day before Deutsche Bank's annual shareholders meeting, German NGOs criticise the new leadership of the bank, Anshu Jain and Jürgen Fitschen, on their poor sustainability performance. "A year ago, the new leaders promised a fundamental shift in the bank's business towards an ethical and ecological responsible bank. However, this is not taking place" says Dr. Barbara Happe of the environmental and human rights organisation urgewald. According to Happe, profit at the expense of people and the environment remains at the heart of Deutsche Bank's business model.

Recent research by urgewald and Facing Finance reveals that Deutsche Bank continues to provide money to companies that ignore environmental and human rights issues and damage the climate. For example, the bank still issues bonds and shares for arms manufacturers that deliver arms into conflict areas, as well as for nuclear companies. It also continues activities on food speculation.

"Just the financial services of Deutsche Bank for 7 of the 10 most controversial companies account for more than 2.8 billion Euro" laments Thomas Küchenmeister of Facing Finance. He refers to a ranking of RepRisk, an agency that informs banks about the ecologic and social reputational risks of their clients. Deals with arms manufacturers alone already amount to nearly 1 billion Euro, despite the fact that the bank claims in its sustainability report that it no longer offers any financial product that is directly linked to nuclear weapons, cluster ammunition, land mines or human rights violations.

"Deutsche Bank continues to conduct business with producers of nuclear weapons and cluster ammunition, albeit less deals with the latter", says Küchenmeister. He criticises financial relations of Deutsche Bank with arms manufacturers such as Rheinmetall, a manufacturer that produces weapons in, and delivers weapons to countries that disregard human rights.

Deutsche bank also continues to support companies involved in Mountain Top Removal coal mining practices. This mining, conducted in the Appalachian Mountains in the US involves literally blasting away the top of a mountain, leaving the landscape destroyed and the mining waste ending in the rivers poisoning the drinking water. Paul Corbit Brown, spokesperson of the organisation ‘Keeper of the Mountains' that resists the destruction of the region for coal mining, came over from the US to confront the bank with the impact of MTR.

"Deutsche Bank has provided money to Alpha Natural Resources and Arch Coal, companies that exercise this type of mining. The bank doesn't exclude this kind of companies from financing, which is irresponsible", criticises Corbit Brown.

Deutsche Bank also counts amongst its clients the controversial Rio Tinto mining company, one of the world biggest producers of uranium. Its ‘Roessing' mine in Nambia, the world's third largest uranium mine, consumes as much water as the Namibian capital Windhoek. "In a arid country such as Namibia this high water consumption of Roessing is a huge problem. Further, mining workers and neighbouring communities are suffering from health problems. Not surprising since the uranium concentration in the groundwater, soil and sediment has strongly increased. Deutsche Bank should not support such clients", demands Bertchen Kohrs of the environmental organisation Earthlife Namibia.

Deutsche Bank is big in food speculation too. "The investment funds of Deutsche Bank invested 3.79 billion Euro into bets on the price of food commodities, such as wheat and corn", explains Oxfam's expert David Hachfeld. "Food speculation increases the risk of price fluctuation and hunger. Poor people in developing countries can't afford basic food if the price is rising. Deutsche Bank knows the risk, but prioritise the profit." Last year the bank even broke its promise to shelve the establishment of new funds until having finished a research into the risk of speculation increasing hunger. However, according to research conducted by Oxfam, Deutsche Bank last year launched five new investment funds speculating on prices of agricultural raw materials.

Taking into account this vast range of critique, NGOs rate Jain's and Fitschen's first year performance as very poor. They have summarised their judgement in a school report, which will be handed over to shareholders at the meeting. They call upon shareholders to donate their dividend to communities suffering from the bank's business.

Further information and interviews
Barbara Happe, urgewald, +49 (0)172-681 44 74
Thomas Küchenmeister, Facing Finance, +49 (0)175-49 64 082
David Hachfeld, Oxfam Deutschland, +49 (0)176 24 11 23 61

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