Citigroup Succumbs to ‘Green’ Campaign – Outlines New Environmental Policies
The world's largest private financial institution, Citigroup, has signed on to a comprehensive environmental policy that sets a new industry standard in regard to funding of projects that might have an impact on sensitive ecosystems, logging, indigenous areas and climate change. Under the agreement Citigroup will not fund commercial logging in tropical rainforests, setting an important precedent and making it the only private U.S. bank to recognize the urgent need to protect such areas from industrial development (something even the World Bank has refused to acknowledge).
I agree with the Rainforest Action Network, the leader of the campaign that brought about this policy change, that “this moment marks a milestone in the worldwide movement to stop global warming and deforestation”. Forests.org along with many dozens of organizations rallied to support RAN's campaign through information distribution and replying to action alerts. We should all savor this positive announcement, while realizing ultimate success will depend upon monitoring implementation, expansion to the rest of the industry (already a RAN campaign goal) and addressing some remaining areas of concern.
The WorldTwitch bird site at http://worldtwitch.com/citigroup.htm notes the new initiatives will be a positive development only if they are strengthened before becoming the industry standard, and that in their current form, many ongoing harmful projects would pass muster. Citigroup's new environmental initiatives do not provide for withdrawal from environmentally unsound projects already underway, nor do they provide any measures to ameliorate the injuries caused by past financing. A major first test regarding how the policy will impact new lending will be whether Citigroup participates in financing the controversial Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline project to bring oil from Azerbaijan to Turkey's Mediterranean coast, which threatens several ecologically sensitive areas while contributing to global warming.
Nonetheless, a strong message of hope and ecological sustainability has gone out to the World: financing liquidation of the Earth's most valuable natural assets for short-term profit for a few, at a long-term cost to the world, is no longer acceptable. You can take that to the Bank – and that is exactly what we have done!