Financiers Go Green:
An Environmental Victory
compiled from press releases and reports
Four years of protests and demonstrations by the
Rainforest Action Network and New York University students have persuaded
Americas largest financial institution to refrain from any further financing
for commercial logging in primary, tropical forests. Investments in mining and
drilling projects in certain rainforests will also be curtailed.
Citigroup of New
York, a mammoth multinational group of financial companies with operations in
100 countries, agreed January 22 to a change in policy that includes a number
of provisions designed to direct investments more towards environmentally
friendly projects and away from companies with projects destructive to the
environment. It is the first American bank to adopt such a comprehensive
policy, according to the Rainforest Action Network, a San Francisco-based
environmental activist group.
We think this is the most
significant environmental commitment to date in the financial services sector
and perhaps in the corporate sector, because of the potential ripple effects,
said Ilyse Hogue, global finance campaign director for the environmental group.
Today, Citigroup has articulated the strongest
environmental policies yet of any private financial institution in the world,
said Michael Brune, executive director of Rainforest Action Network. This moment
marks a milestone in the worldwide movement to stop global warming and deforestation.
We cannot overstate the importance of changing such a vast enterprise and look
forward to working together with Citigroup in the coming years.
While the activist group organized the
campaign for the policy nationally, students at NYU organized locally and
participated in rallies at Citigroups Midtown New York headquarters.
Pam Flaherty, head
of global community relations and environmental affairs for Citigroup, said the
new policy builds on the Equator Principles, a set of voluntary guidelines that
18 global financial institutions have signed since last June. The principles
require the banks to adopt procedures to evaluate the social and environmental
impacts of infrastructure projects that they finance.
What weve done is
moved beyond that, building on it and making it more comprehensive, Flaherty
As reported by the
Associated Press, the bank said the main points of the new policy are:
- Additional screening of loan requests for
projects Citigroup determines could adversely impact a critical natural
habitat. Included is a ban on loans for commercial logging in rainforests.
- Refusing loans to companies engaged in
- Developing a program to invest in
sustainable forestry and renewable energy, including financing for solar
panels, residential wind turbines and fuel cells.
- Reporting greenhouse emissions gasses linked to global warming
from power projects in its portfolio.
The new policy also requires that indigenous people near
investment projects have access to information about those projects. The new policy in its entirety is online at Citigroups
website at this link.
In light of the success of its Citigroup campaign, the
Rainforest Action Network has sent letters to other banking companies,
challenging them to adopt similar standards. The public is invited to join
those follow-up campaigns by signing letters to the chief executive officers of
seven banks at the networks website,