The Rainforest Action Network has urged financial services giant Morgan Stanley to stop financing coal mining and coal-fired power.
The Rainforest Action Network (RAN) has “been holding the US banking sector accountable for its environmental and human rights impacts” for fifteen years. Most recently RAN succeeded in seeing the Bank of America (and Credit Agricole) adopt new policies that took major steps away from financing coal.
RAN’s next target is major investment bank Morgan Stanley.
“Morgan Stanley has longstanding financing relationships with some of the worst offenders from the global coal mining industry, including Peabody Energy, the world’s largest private sector coal mining company,” said Ben Collins, Senior Research and Policy Campaigner at RAN. “Last year alone, the bank financed $477 million for coal mining.”
According to RAN, Morgan Stanley finances top producers of mountaintop removal coal — “even as eleven of its competitors have committed to cut financing for the practice.” Morgan Stanley is also reported to have financed the largest operators of coal-fired power plants in the world for $1.2 billion in 2014, including RWE, Europe’s largest single emitter of carbon dioxide. US-based companies receiving beneficial attention from Morgan Stanley include mountaintop-coal mining Alpha Natural Resources and the financially unstable (understatement) FirstEnergy.
Morgan Stanley has not proven deaf to the environmental movement, having created the Institute for Sustainable Investment.
“For us at Morgan Stanley, it is abundantly clear that the solutions to global challenges can only achieve the required scale if they can attract a critical mass of private capital,” said James P. Gorman, Chairman and CEO, Morgan Stanley. “To this end, we’ve established the Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing to lead work across our firm, with our clients, and with academic institutions to help mobilize capital to sustainable enterprises, via global markets and the investors who drive them.”
However, a number of companies have decided to play both sides of the field, and if Morgan Stanley is intent on committing to true environmentally-focused finances, it will need to lay down its investments in financing fossil fuels. As Ben Collins of RAN wrote on a recent blog post, “It’s time for the bank to start walking its talk on sustainability by cutting ties to the coal industry.”
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