The Rainforest Action Network started a campaign today aimed squarely at two powerhouses in the American financial business, at a time when that sector is reeling from over-investment in shaky mortgages.
The campaign aims to expose Citi and Bank of America's investments in the coal industry, and urge them to shift their money to clean energy instead. Burning coal contributes more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere than other energy sources, and contributes to acid rain, smog, toxic mercury contamination of fish and other air pollutants. Mining coal can also be destructive.
Citi was the top underwriter of coal in 2006, according to Bloomberg. Bank of America finances companies that practice "mountaintop removal" mining, according to the Rainforest Action Network. Both, according to the group, invest heavily in the next generation of coal-fired power plants proposed for construction in the United States.
The idea behind the campaign is to encourage more socially conscious investing. If lending institutions pull back funds from projects that degrade the environment or exploit native people, the thinking goes, than those projects will be less likely to occur.
Citi published a position statement on climate change
statement on climate changein February that urged the U.S. to join in worldwide efforts to combat climate change, to act immediately and comprehensively, and to consider setting a price on carbon.
That statement reads, in part: "Citigroup has committed to a 10% reduction in (greenhouse gas) emissions by 2011, invested in and financed alternative energy and clean technology, and published equity research that highlights the relevance of climate change to various sectors of the global economy. Citigroup recognizes that establishing a price for carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases is essential for reflecting the impacts of these emissions."
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