Think the Big Banks Have Abandoned Coal? Think Again – by Emily Flitter (New York Times – May 28, 2018)

An environmental group’s analysis shows the five largest United States banks have started lending to coal companies again now that they’re out of bankruptcy.

Starting three years ago, the largest American banks vowed to cut back on lending to the coal industry.

“The bank has a responsibility to help mitigate climate change by leveraging our scale and resources to accelerate the transition from a high-carbon to a low-carbon society,” Bank of America said in its coal policy in May 2015.

Their pledges seemed so dramatic that Paul Argenti, a professor of corporate communication at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, began citing them in lectures as a rare example of a corporate principle’s trumping profits. “I read it as: They were done,” he said.

But the banks, it turns out, never actually promised to walk away from coal completely. And now, with coal companies enjoying a small resurgence under the Trump administration, banks are again embracing the industry.

At the time of the pledges, the three biggest coal mining companies were in bankruptcy, the United States was signing a pact to reduce carbon emissions, and cheap natural gas was forcing coal-fired power plants out of business. There were few coal loans to make.

For the rest of this article:

Comments are closed.