NGO uses Citigroup as lever for changeJune 2004
The two largest financial services companies in the US have now agreed to put in place lending criteria on issues such as climate change and biodiversity, following a campaign by the Rainforest Action Network pressure group.
Bank of America last month announced that it will not fund mining or logging in old-growth tropical rainforest. It will require logging operations in other types of old-growth forest to be verified as ‘sustainable’ by an independent third party, before lending them money.
Citigroup, the biggest US bank, made a similar statement earlier this year and will begin assessing the social and environmental impact of investments in sensitive projects in the next few months. In April 2003, Citigroup declared a ‘ceasefire’ with RAN, which halted its media campaign after the bank agreed to develop a policy of favouring investments ‘in less carbon-intensive sources of energy’ and to report on the greenhouse gas implications of its investments in future power projects.
RAN now plans to put pressure on other companies, such as JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo. It is encouraging them to ‘meet or beat’ the policies of Citigroup and Bank of America.
Among other things, Bank of America will establish an environmental council with responsibilities for ensuring the bank’s ‘environmental goals and objectives are met, tracked and reported’. It also says it will not finance projects in sensitive forests where there are unsettled land claims by indigenous people. Bank of America and Citigroup between them have customers in over 150 countries.
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