Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, and JP Morgan Chase have decided not to finance a controversial project involving dredging part of the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, according to an Australian environmental group.
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The Rainforest Action Network said it has obtained confirmation by some major US banks that they would not get involved in financing the Abbot Point coal port expansion plan in Queensland – a controversial project damned by environmentalists for its negative effects on the Great Barrier Reef park.
The announcement follows decision by Deutsche Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland, HSBC and Barclays to also stay out of the project due to environmental concerns, despite the developers stating operations are safe and won’t damage the reef.
JPMorgan Chase said it would not get involved in a project in a World Heritage site without prior agreement between UNESCO and the government, and Goldman Sachs said the project “would significantly convert or degrade a critical natural habitat”.
The conservation group’s climate and energy program, director Amanda Starbuck said, “We’re pleased to see some of the biggest banks on Wall Street reject this destructive project that presents a grave threat to the Great Barrier Reef and to the global climate.
“These banks have clearly taken a good look at the Abbot Point plan and decided that dredging a World Heritage Site to make way for coal ships is obviously a terrible idea.”
Campaigners have now called on the big four Australian banks – ANZ, Westpac, Commonwealth Bank and NAB – to get out of the plans and follow the international banks’ decision.
Blair Palese of climate action group 350.org Australia said, “If the banks don’t distance themselves from these projects, then their customers and investors will distance themselves from the banks.”
In September, developers agreed to dispose of the dredged waste at an alternative site onshore rather than dumping it into the reef as initially agreed. But environmentalists are still concerned the ship traffic could affect the delicate area.
Photo: oatsy40 via flickr