Worth a Look: Citizens, Banks, and Coal Mining

05 Energy, Civil Society, Commerce, Earth Intelligence

Phi Beta Iota: We decided to post a long email about helping a major international bank decide not to fund mountaintop removal coal projects for the following reasons:

1)  It illustrates the emergent power of focused citizen advocacy.

2)  It documents the modified behavior of select major banks.

3)  It highlights the complete fragmentation of citizen advocacy–all over the lot with no strategic analytic model, no information-sharing network, no ability to co-evolve and achieve multiplication effects.


From: “Ben Wikler – Avaaz.org” <[email protected]>
Date: Thu, 30 Sep 2010
Subject: Bank or mountain destroyer?

Dear friends,

Swiss banking giant UBS is the world’s top financier of mountaintop removal
— the most destructive form of coal mining. Under pressure, UBS is due to
decide soon whether to end its funding of this horrendous practice. Public
outcry could tip the balance — sign the petition and forward it to friends!

One of the world’s ugliest, most polluting industries is finally being
challenged: mountaintop removal coal mining companies are finding that bank
after bank won’t lend to them. And if we take action now, their biggest
funder could change policies within weeks.

Mountaintop removal mining is just what it sounds like: demolishing entire
mountaintops, taking coal, and leaving toxic streams and flattened earth.
The practice decimates local environments and communities to “cheaply”
produce coal, a climate killer.

But right now, UBS, the world’s second largest bank, is deciding whether to
stop  funding the companies responsible for this hideous practice. Let’s
send a message to UBS that they can’t be a clean bank if they back the
world’s dirtiest energy source. UBS is sensitive to public opinion — join
the worldwide call to end funding of mountaintop removal mining, and Avaaz
and partners will deliver it to their headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland
when we reach 100,000 signatures:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/ubs_out_of_mtr/?vl
<http://www.avaaz.org/en/ubs_out_of_mtr/?cl=773641548&v=7301>

Because of public pressure, many of the world¹s top banks have now renounced
Mountaintop Removal mining (MTR). Credit Suisse, Bank of America, Citi,
Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo have all dropped out.

UBS is the top remaining financier. Since 2008, UBS has lent $900 million to
companies responsible for over a third of all MTR coal mining. But now UBS
is trying to clean up its public image, after being caught helping rich
Americans dodge taxes. If we win with UBS, energy investors will get the
message that coal’s days are numbered.

Let’s make sure they make the right decision. Sign and forward the petition:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/ubs_out_of_mtr/?vl
<http://www.avaaz.org/en/ubs_out_of_mtr/?cl=773641548&v=7301>

While world leaders drag their feet on a global climate treaty, the fossil
fuel industry keeps burning coal. The dirty energy companies which undercut
our chance at a global climate treaty last December are pumping their
profits into politics, in the U.S. and around the world.

But we, in turn, have the power to undercut their destruction — by denying
them the loans to operate in the first place. Getting UBS out of the
dirtiest coal is a crucial step toward clean energy, clean politics, and a
cleaner, safer world.

With hope,

Ben, Brianna, Alex, David, and the Avaaz Team

SOURCES

Avaaz’s partners at Rainforest Action Network have been leading the campaign
against mountaintop removal finance for the past three years. See their
scorecard of mountaintop removal lenders here:
http://ran.org/content/grading-banks-mountaintop-removal-report-card

New York Times, “Banks Grow Wary of Environmental Risks”:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/31/business/energy-environment/31coal.html?_r
=1

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