SAN FRANCISCO March 11 - Rainforest Action Network today sent letters to The Liquidators, ten of the most environmentally destructive US-based banks, issuing an Earth Day deadline to meet or beat new industry best practices set by Citigroups recently announced environmental initiatives. The letter follows the release of a secret Pentagon report confirming that catastrophic climate change is a greater national security threat than terrorism and a World Bank report recommending it phase out funding for fossil fuel projects by 2008. Both reports agree: global warming requires immediate action.
In a March 10, 2004 letter, Rainforest Action Network executive director Michael Brune proposed that the banks take immediate first steps to phase out all funding and investment for extractive industries (oil, gas, mining, logging) in endangered ecosystems; commit to support the right of indigenous and local populations to have free and prior informed consent to projects on their lands; commit to independent third party chain-of-custody certification in regions where over 50 percent of logging is illegal; prioritize funding for sustainable alternatives, such as Forest Stewardship Council certified logging projects and clean energy sources such as solar and wind power; provide and promote retail financial products including energy efficient and energy improvement mortgages to encourage mainstream adoption of clean energy sources; and commit to reduce investments in greenhouse gas producing industries, beginning with an immediate ban in new funding for coal.
Letters were sent to JP Morgan Chase (NYSE: JPM), Bank One (NYSE: ONE), Bank of America (NYSE: BAC), Fleet Boston Financial (NYSE: FBF), Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC), Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS), John Hancock (NYSE: JHF), Wachovia (NYSE: WB), U.S. Bancorp (NYSE: USB) and SunTrust (NYSE: STI). Copies are available at www.ran.org/earthdaydeadline.
The jury is no longer out on the effects of global warming and deforestation, said Michael Brune, executive director of Rainforest Action Network. The Earths ancient forests and their indigenous communities are victims of the vicious cycle of devastation caused by global dependence on fossil fuels. Destroying pristine old-growth forests for a few weeks supply of dirty energy is a barbaric practice and a key catalyst in the rapid destabilization of our global climate. The time has come to redefine capital and redirect its flow away from environmentally fatal projects. The era of investments that reap short-term profits while bankrupting our environment is over.
Mega-banks should be environmental leaders, not laggards, said Ilyse Hogue, director the Global Finance Campaign at Rainforest Action Network. Bank of America says that it has higher standards yet their environmental policy is not worth the recycled paper its printed on. Astonishingly, over 30 years after the first Earth Day, J. P. Morgan Chase still has no environmental policy. When two of the worlds most recalcitrant institutions, the Pentagon and the World Bank, recommend immediate action to protect the global environment, leading financial institutions like these have no excuse for further delays. If mounting scientific evidence does not compel them to act, then mounting public pressure will.
Rainforest Action Network works to protect the Earths rainforests and support the rights of their inhabitants through education, grassroots organizing, and non-violent direct action. Additional information may be found at: www.ran.org.