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The Principle Matter: Banks, Climate & The Carbon Principles

gfc_coalplant_250x167.jpgTwo years ago, some of the biggest banks announced the Carbon Principles. Heralded as a new path for the banking industry, the Carbon Principles were supposed to make it “tougher to finance conventional coal-fired plants in the U.S.”

Today we release our new report which examines the implementation and impact of these Principles, and the role that banks play in financing filthy new coal plants – and the news is not good.

Our research reveals that, while the broader economy has been shifting away from new coal power plants, the banks that have signed onto the Carbon Principles are continuing with business as usual in regards to financing dirty coal.

Coal-fired power plants provide nearly 50 percent of our electricity and, pound for pound, are the planet's dirtiest source of energy. Burning coal is the nation's top source of air pollution and toxic mercury, and it is responsible for one third of the country's greenhouse gas emissions—nearly 2 billion tons per year.

Key Findings From Our Report:

• The Carbon Principles do acknowledge that precautionary policies can be enacted by banks, and can be applied across the board to all types of client services.

• The Carbon Principles affirm the principal of active engagement with outside environmental NGO stakeholders in developing due diligence procedures.

• The Carbon Principles address the economic risk of financing climate change, rather than the environmental risk of providing this finance.

• There is no evidence that the Carbon Principles have stopped, or even slowed, financing to carbon-intensive projects.

• There is no evidence that the Carbon Principles have spurred investment in clean energy at greater levels than what is already happening across the economy.

Our Recommendation:

RAN calls upon leading financial institutions to develop a robust framework of policies and practices to address climate risk, including the immediate phase-out support for new and existing coal-fired power plants, coal extraction and delivery projects.

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