Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

Minnesotans Push U.S. Bank Forward on Climate Policy


MINNEAPOLIS, MN -- After months of community actions demanding U.S. Bank take seriously its commitment to act on climate change, U.S. Bancorp released a new Environmental Policy yesterday. In the policy, U.S. Bank commits to reduce lending across the U.S. coal sector, including restrictions on new coal mining projects, coal-fired power plants and mountaintop removal mining practices. It also states that U.S. Bank will utilize additional measures to screen clients in the oil and gas industries, but does not provide any detail about those metrics.

“We are glad US Bank is beginning to hear people's voices and is taking steps to restrict financing to coal, oil and gas,” said Ulla Nilsen, Corporate Accountability Organizer with MN350, “but they can and must do much more. In order to limit catastrophic warming, financial institutions must be willing to remove all support from the toxic industries that are devastating our planet and instead help fund the transition to a sustainable economy.”

While the action taken by U.S. Bank represents an important step, the policy contains significant holes. For example, the policy allows U.S. Bank to finance coal companies that engage in mountaintop removal (MTR), as long as MTR does not represent more that 25% of their business, a production threshold that is very high and likely would allow for financing a significant number of companies that engage in MTR.

The announcement comes after six months of actions by community members around the country. Concerned customers publicly closed their U.S. Bank accounts, occupied bank lobbies and flooded top executives’ in-boxes with requests that U.S. Bank live up to it’s commitment to environmental stewardship.

The new policy brings U.S. Bank, the 5th largest commercial bank in the country, closer to the recent climate policy changes of the other big banks in the United States, including Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and most recently, JP Morgan Chase. However, the new policy lags behind the commitments made by other banks, including JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley who have pledged to end financing for all coal-fired power plant development within the U.S. and developing countries.

“In February of this year we witnessed extreme, record breaking temperatures,” said Nilsen. “This accelerated warming demands bold action. We need our financial institutions to join the global effort to combat climate change, and stop financing fossil fuels, before it’s too late. We will continue to work with groups around the country to hold U.S. Bank accountable to their claims of environmental stewardship, until they are truly taking action to secure the future of our children.”

According to CERES, although clean energy investments are on the rise, an additional 600 billion is needed annually in order to meet emissions reductions mandated by the November Paris climate accords.


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