Tagged: coal


The mandate of the European Investment Bank (EIB) is to further EU sustainable development objectives, including Europe’s 2050 Energy Roadmap, which calls for quickly cutting carbon emissions. On their website, the EIB claims to be "among the largest providers of finance for climate action." But they fail to mention one little detail: They also make massive loans to coal-fired power plants and other dirty energy sources.

So Counter Balance teamed up with the Yes Lab to reveal the EIB's hypocrisy. The day before the Bank was scheduled to have its exclusive annual press conference, the activists sent out a fake EIB press release announcing that the Bank would finally do the right thing and stop financing coal power plants. The story was immediately picked up by business press, and the EIB responded with a denial, threatening legal retaliation.

At the press conference the next day, a Counterbalance agent with journalist’s credentials gained entry to the exclusive event and presented EIB President Werner Hoyer with a stunning award, thanking him and the bank for their commitment to divestment from fossil fuels. If only! Until they change, we’ve all got to suck their second-hand smoke. Thanks, Europe!

Selected Press:


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During National Asthma Awareness Month (a real commemoration), the fossil fuel industry launched one of its more bizarre public health initiatives to date: Coal Cares™ (www.coalcares.com).

The campaign, which promised to “make asthma cool” with decorative and pop-culture inspired inhalers (“The Bieber,” “Harry Potter,” “My Little Pony,” and “My First Inhaler”), was purportedly a cheeky initiative from Peabody Energy, America’s largest coal company. The slick website also announced that Peabody would offer $10 coupons towards asthma medication to families living within 200 miles of a coal-fired plant, featured a “Kidz Koal Korner” with asthma-related games for tots, an extensive asthma trivia section and FAQ (Peter the Great was asthmatic, who knew!), and a passionate condemnation of solar and wind alternatives.

The project, which unleashed threats of lawsuits and hysterical recriminations from Peabody Coal, was actually a collaboration between a group called Coal is Killing Kids and the Yes Lab. The Coal Cares campaign quickly became a major phenomenon on social media, with hundreds signing up to follow Coal Cares cheeky missives on Twitter, and tens of thousands sharing the campaign on Facebook.

More importantly it put Big Coal on the defensive at a time when they were spending millions of dollars on lobby and phony "greenwashing" campaigns to oppose important Federal updates to clean air laws. The fact that the coal industry is one of the biggest known contributors to childhood asthma in the United States got the front page attention it deserved -- it also highlighted a similar atrocious effort by Big Coal to subvert the education system by teaming up with Scholastic publishers to publish a pro-coal propaganda text book for fourth graders. A week after Coal Cares made a splash, Scholastic dumped the faux text book after widespread publicity and outrage.

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Students from Columbia College in Chicago came together with Greenpeace and The Yes Lab to take on the Chicago coal industry. The group created an elaborate scheme to announce that a new Coal Plant was planned—but instead of going in a poor neighborhood (like the two coal plants that already exist), this one would be built in a rich one.

First, a Midwest Generation website quietly appeared online.

Then, construction notices showed up on the lot where the new plant would be built:

Then, these brochures started appearing the mailboxes of condo owners adjacent to the lot:

A letter from the city of Chicago also appeared in condo mailboxes, warning residents to remain vigilant in the face of potential future health effects:

Soon, "ambulance chaser" lawyers were in on the act:

Soon enough, a protest group was formed, and these fliers went up all over the neighborhood:

The protest actually occurred and was covered in the media. The "protest group" website pointed to a very real petition in favor of the Clean Power Ordinance, and full of facts about the two coal plants that already existed in Chicago neighborhoods, albeit poor ones:

The fliers and protests got a rise out of residents, and the media coverage helped keep the heat on Chicago to pass a Clean Power Ordinance.

Selected press:

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February 28, 2013

Dreams of European Investment Bank Quitting Coal Go Up in Smoke – For Now
Climate activists take responsibility for fake press release, bizarre award ceremony

Brussels -- The European Investment Bank (EIB) president Werner Hoyer was forced to say this morning, during the EIB’s annual press conference, that an announcement that the bank would give up lending to coal was "pure nonsense". And this, despite the fact that Hoyer repeatedly referred to the EIB as a frontrunner in the fight against climate change. 
The contradictory statements from the EIB came as a result of a sophisticated activist campaign that culminated in a curious confrontation inside the European Council building this morning.
The ruse began yesterday afternoon, when a fake press release announced that the EIB was divesting from coal. Several news outlets picked it up as real, including Bloomberg, who quickly discovered their error, pulled the report, and posted a retraction
The EIB posted a denial on their website and threatened legal action, but that did not stop the  activists, who continued to hound them at their exclusive annual press conference this morning. 
After Hoyer presented the activities of the EIB during 2012, including the bank's efforts on climate change, he was approached by a self-identified "citizen of Europe", who offered him an elegant flower vase shaped like a smokestack. 
"I am very pleased to present this award to the European Investment Bank," said the citizen, "to honor your commitment to divest from Coal, and finally commit to real action on climate change." 
Despite hesitating for a second whether to get the "European citizen" kicked out, the EIB decided he posed no real threat and allowed him to continue staying in the room, while keeping the award on the stage for some time. 
Upon receiving the award, a confounded Hoyer said that "we have always been grateful for the ingenuity of our journalist partners" and quickly moved on to the next issue on the press conference agenda.
Yet the climate issue and energy lending by the EIB stayed on the media's mind, and numerous questions addressed in the Q&A section of the press conference pressed the EIB to explain more about the bank's efforts against climate change. Representatives of the bank mostly pointed to the upcoming review of the bank's energy policy (due in June); the EIB made it clear it was not ready to announce dropping coal from the bank's lending at the moment, and made it clear that gas will continue to be a central segment of EIB lending in the future. 
The "citizen of Europe" was really a representative of Counter Balance, a coalition of NGOs across Europe that monitor the EIB. The action was developed with the help of the Yes Lab. 
"We wanted to show to the bank how European citizens expect the EIB to behave," said Berber Verpoest of Counter Balance. 
The EIB is the house bank of the EU, mandated to further EU objectives including Europe's 2050 Energy Roadmap which calls for an 80-95 percent emissions reduction over the next four decades in Europe. The EIB's website claims the bank is "among the largest providers of finance for climate action in pursuit of the EU's goal of low-carbon and climate resilient growth." What is not mentioned, however, are the massive loans to coal-fired power plants and other dirty energy initiatives that the EIB has provided also over the last years. 
"The presentation of this award and the hoax press release from yesterday were meant to emphasise the deep contradiction at the heart of the EIB," explains Berber Verpoest from Counter Balance. "On the one hand, this is the bank of the EU with the goal to fight climate change; on the other hand, the EIB has been lending billions to coal, gas and other fossil fuels and until last year its dirty energy loans were equal to its support for clean energy. So with the hoax we wanted to make clear what we expect the future energy policy to look like."
The European Investment Bank is this year reviewing its energy lending policy, a revision which only happens once every 5-6 years. Considering that climate science makes it clear we cannot invest any more in fossil fuel infrastructure after 2017 if we want to contain global warming within 2 degrees Celsius, the current policy revision is the only chance this bank has to set its lending in line with the climate imperative. 
"The EIB has been working hard over the past years to clean up its lending," says Xavier Sol from Counter Balance. "We commend them for those efforts and we hope that they take this hoax for what it really is: not so much an attempt to make fun, but an alarm bell that time is running out and subsidies for fossil fuels must be ended today if we want to avoid catastrophe."
Key Figures:
  • EIB lones to coal 2007-2011: €2 billion
  • EIB loans to fossil fuels 2007-2011: €19 billion
  • EIB total energy loans 2007-2011: €62 billion

Coal plants financed by EIB since 2007:

  • Du-Walsum Coal Power Plant in Germany, 2007
  • PPC Environment in Greece, 2007
  • Enel Energia Rinnovable & Ambiente in Italy, 2007
  • TES - THERMAL Power Plant in Slovenia, 2007 and 2010
  • Power Plant Karlsruhe in Germany, 2008
  • Fortum CHP and E-Metering in Poland, 2009
  • SE Power Plant and Forest Industry R&D in Poland, 2010
  • South Poland CHP in Poland, 2011
  • Paroseni Power Plant in Romania, 2011

For more info, see the EIB's project database and Bankwatch's studies and analysis.

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February 27, 2013

EIB will exclude all future coal finance as part of its new energy policy

Brussels - The European Investment Bank (EIB) will no longer finance coal fired power plants. The decision is being made in the context of the ongoing review of its Energy Lending Policy in order to better align the bank’s operations with the long-term climate objectives of the European Union. The EIB is the largest international financial institution to exclude coal from its lending operations. 
Ahead of a presentation in Brussels of the EIB’s 2012 lending activities, EIB president Werner Hoyer said, “In January the Governors of the European Investment Bank unanimously voted to increase the bank’s capital base by EUR 10 billion in order to finance priority sectors including clean energy. Their decision is an unambiguous message that the EIB is committed to achieving the climate objectives of the European Union, including the long-term perspective set out in the 2050 energy roadmap. Restricting support for fossil fuels sends two important signals: a political one to the world that the EIB is a leader on action to combat climate change, and a financial one to the capital markets that the EIB sees energy efficiency and renewable energy as the investments of the future.”
In recent years, the EIB has significantly increased its lending to renewables and energy efficiency. In 2010, Climate Action lending had already reached 30 percent of the bank’s overall portfolio, a positive trend which will continue under the new Energy Lending Policy. 
The EIB, which last year allocated approximately twenty percent of its EUR 60 billion portfolio, or EUR 13 billion, to the energy sector, will continue to boost its support for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. As much as 60 percent of EIB lending could be allocated to the Climate Action Programme by 2020.
Press Contact:
Philippe Wallace,  +32 484 610 931, p.wallace@europeaninvestmentbank.org
Press office: +32 2840 5948, press@europeaninvestmentbank.org
Notes to Editors:
The European Investment Bank (EIB) is the long-term lending institution of the European Union owned by its Member States. It makes long-term finance available for sound investment in order to contribute towards EU policy goals.


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Peabody Energy (NYSE: BTU) Announces "Coal Cares™" Initiative, New Nationwide Campaign Against Stigma of Childhood Asthma

ST. LOUIS, May 10, 2011 / PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Peabody Energy today announced the creation of an innovative new public health initiative designed to combat the stigma of asthma among American children ages 0-18. With Coal Cares™ (www.coalcares.org), Peabody will offer free, custom-branded inhaler actuators to children living within 200 miles of a coal plant, along with coupons worth $10 towards the purchase of the asthma medication itself.

"Too many young Americans face daily schoolyard taunting and bullying because of a condition over which they have no control," said Gregory H. Boyce, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Peabody Energy. "By re-branding the inhaler as a cool, individualized, must-have accessory, Coal Cares™ will empower children to tell bullies: ‘suck it up.’" Children can choose from a variety of youth-themed inhaler cases, from tween faves like "the Bieber" and "My Little Pony," to the "Emo" and "Diamond" inhalers for older, style-conscious youth. There’s even "My First Inhaler," for tots.

Coal Cares™ launches today in commemoration of Asthma Awareness Month, the Environmental Protection Agency’s effort to call attention to rising asthma rates, especially among children. Coal Cares™ and its Puff-Puff™ line of inhalers is the first, and most ambitious, market-friendly public health initiative of this scope of any privately-owned American company, and testifies to the energy industry’s commitment to the well-being of all citizens, including the youngest.

"Our actions are guided by a singular mission: to be a leading worldwide producer and supplier of balanced energy solutions, which power economic prosperity and well-being," said Boyce. "Coal Cares™ brings this mission to life, empowering children everywhere to take control of their destinies, beginning with their own lungs."

"Coal Cares™ is emblematic of the return to self-reliance that healthy entrepreneurship demands," said James Miasmus, Vice President of Government Affairs at Peabody USA. "Costly ‘scrubbing’ technology, on the other hand, is an untested and heavy-handed intrusion into our still-vulnerable economy. At Peabody, we're thinking globally but acting locally, and locating preventive action at the point of consumption, where it belongs."

"Coal Cares™ isn’t just the name of a campaign," said Kevin Briesslau, Vice President of Communications at Peabody Coal. "It’s a philosophy, a way of doing business in harmony with the community we are a part of. After all, coal is the fastest-growing fuel in the world. We're part of America’s heritage, and we’re here to stay."

To learn more about Peabody's Coal Cares™ initiative, visit: www.coalcares.org.

Peabody Energy (NYSE: BTU) is the world's largest private-sector coal company and a global leader in clean coal solutions. With 2010 sales of 246 million tons and nearly $7 billion in revenues, Peabody fuels 10 percent of U.S. power and 2 percent of worldwide electricity.

Vic Ganey

Phone (314) 472-5539

SOURCE Peabody Energy


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May 10, 2011

Tackling Childhood Asthma Not Coal Industry Priority After All
No more My Little Pony inhalers in stock

     Contact: asthma@coalcares.org, (314) 472-5539

A charitable initiative by the world's largest coal company to provide free “novelty-themed” inhalers to asthmatic children may have seemed for a moment like a (somewhat misguided) breath of fresh air, coming as it did from an industry whose emissions are directly linked to childhood asthma, and which is fighting to gut clean air legislation that would save children’s lives.

Coal Cares™ (www.coalcares.org) purported to “make asthma cool” with decorative and pop-culture inspired inhalers (“The Bieber,” “Harry Potter,” “My Little Pony,” and “My First Inhaler” were particular favorites). The site also announced that Peabody would offer $10 coupons towards asthma medication (about 5%-20% of the cost) for families living within 200 miles of a coal-fired plant. It featured a “Kidz Koal Korner” with asthma-related games for tots, an extensive asthma trivia section and FAQ (Peter the Great was asthmatic, who knew!), and a thorough condemnation of solar and wind alternatives.

It was, of course, a hoax, and it was aimed at Peabody Coal, which is lobbying ferociously against new pollution standards for power plants proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), standards the agency says will prevent 120,000 cases of childhood asthma each year in the United States. Peabody spent over $6 million lobbying Congress last year, and the industry has created a dizzying array of fake “grassroots” front groups to distort the public debate and fight legislation.

(Meanwhile, a new study by the American Lung Association notes that coal-fired power plants produce more hazardous air pollution in the United States than any other source, with the pollution killing 13,000 people a year. Coal-ash disposal alone increases risk of cancer, learning disabilities, birth defects and other illnesses due to exposure from heavy metals such as arsenic, lead and mercury.)

The Coal Cares™ hoax was devised by a group called Coal is Killing Kids (CKK), a small environmental and public health group that aims to challenge Big Coal’s expensive lobbying against sensible updates to the Clean Air Act. “We don’t have their millions, but we do have a knack for incredibly tasteless jokes,” said Veronica Tomlinson, a pediatrician and member of CKK. CKK worked with the Yes Lab, which is a project of The Yes Men to help activist groups carry out media-savvy creative actions on their own.

"Sure, it’s kind of tasteless to say that ‘Bieber’ inhalers are a solution to childhood asthma," said Janet Bellamy, a spokesperson for CKK. "But it's a great deal more tasteless to cause that asthma in the first place, as coal-fired power plants have been proven to do." Added Justin V. Bond, another spokesperson for CKK: “It’s even more tasteless to disproportionately kill poor people.” Coal-fired power plants are very often built in areas populated by low-income citizens, who then bear the brunt of the health effects.

“People may laugh at our sick jokes,” said Bellamy, “but they also understand the real health impacts of burning coal. That’s exactly what the coal industry doesn’t want people to think about, because if enough of us were aware of it, we would shut these plants down once and for all.”


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