Barclays turns its back on destructive ‘Mountain Top Removal’ coal mining

Barclays turns its back on destructive ‘Mountain Top Removal’ coal mining

Date: 7 April 2015

Following years of pressure and protests from campaigners, account holders and impacted community members, Barclays have released a policy position statement on Mountain Top Removal (MTR) coal mining in which they state, “Provision of financial support to companies which are significant producers of MTR sourced coal will be agreed by exception only.”

MTR is a particularly destructive and controversial form of coal mining in which entire mountain tops or ridgeways are destroyed, with enormous amounts of mining waste being dumped into nearby valleys, destroying waterways and communities. The practice has been particularly controversial in the Appalachia mountain region in the USA.

According to research released in April 2014, Barclays was the lead international financier of coal companies practicing MTR, while between 2005 and 2014, Barclays was the fourth biggest financier of the coal sector as a whole, including coal mining and coal power companies.

Global Justice Now (at the time called the World Development Movement) protested outside Barclay’s April 2014 AGM. Two suited, blue masked Barclays ‘eagles’ on Barclays bikes, carrying coal in their bike baskets, joined protestors holding placards reading, ‘Barclays: Stop bankrolling coal’. Paul Corbit Brown from the West Virginia organisation Keeper of the Mountains travelled to London for the Barclays AGM to address the board over the devastating impacts of MTR on Appalachian communities and ecosystems.

Sam Lund-Harket, energy justice campaigner at Global Justice Now said:
“It’s significant that the bank that has been the most heavily involved in financing this destructive coal mining practice is now recognising the horrific impacts MTR continues to have on both communities and on vast swathes of mountain ecosystems.
This is a victory for the account holders, civil society groups and Appalachian community organisers who have all put pressure on Barclays to stop financially enabling this particularly toxic practice, but there is still a long way to go.

The majority of known reserves of fossil fuels need to stay in the ground in order to meaningfully address climate change.  By massively financing the expansion of the fossil fuel industry, Barclays is inflating the ‘carbon bubble’ and pushing us all further towards climate crisis. We need commitments from Barclays and other banks to stop bankrolling all fossil fuel companies.”

Yann Louvel, the Climate and Energy Campaign Coordinator for BankTrack said:
“This positive move from Barclays will add pressure to other European banks that are still involved in MTR coal mining in the United States, like Deutsche Bank in Germany or Credit Agricole in France. They need to follow suit and stop financing MTR immediately.”

Ben Collins, Senior Climate and Energy Campaigner at Rainforest Action Network, said:
“It’s a big deal when the world’s number one bankroller of mountaintop removal announces it has rescinded its support to this destructive practice. We’re going to monitor Barclays’s future financing decisions very closely to see how this policy is implemented, but overall the announcement is a very good step in the right direction. It’s also a powerful affirmation of what we’ve been saying for years to see Barclays predict that mountaintop removal will be ‘phased out’ as a result of both market and regulatory pressure. That stark assessment points to just how toxic and risky this practice has become in the eyes of the financial industry.