August 31, 2010

Lagging Indicators: Lenders Step Away from Environmental Harm

From the New York Times:

After years of legal entanglements arising from environmental messes and increased scrutiny of banks that finance the dirtiest industries, several large commercial lenders are taking a stand on industry practices that they regard as risky to their reputations and bottom lines.

In the most recent example, the banking giant Wells Fargo noted last month what it called “considerable attention and controversy” surrounding mountaintop removal mining, and said that its involvement with companies engaged in it was “limited and declining.”

HSBC, Rabobank, Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, and Citibank are each mentioned for moves made to "increase scrutiny" of their lending to companies with environmentally harmful practices. The article is noncommittal about the dollar amounts or specific accounts, sadly, but this is positive movement. It's certainly one thing for dorm room idealists to think hateful thoughts toward oil sands, hydrofracking, and mountaintop removal. It's another thing entirely for Morgan Stanley to get cold feet.

I'm of the opinion that this is a major, major sign that the environmental/sustainability movement has hit the mainstream.

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