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Banktrack exposes nuclear secrets of commercial banks

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Johan Frijns, coordinator BankTrack

On May 26, BankTrack, in cooperation with a number of working partners, launched, a new website mapping the involvement of 45 leading commercial banks in funding nuclear power projects and companies active in the nuclear sector. BankTrack considers nuclear energy a grave danger for people and planet. The renewed interest in nuclear energy also poses a severe obstacle to achieving a sustainable solution to the climate crisis.

The website is a joint project of BankTrack, Greenpeace International, Urgewald (Germany), Les Amis de la Terre (France), Antiatom Szene (Austria), WISE (the Netherlands) and CRBM (Italy). The site provides information on 867 transactions, involving a total of 124 banks providing finance to over 70 nuclear companies. Between 2000 and 2009, these banks provided a total amount of 175 billion euro (US$ 215 billion) to the nuclear sector.

The website identifies the top ten of nuclear banks as BNP Paribas (France), Barclays (UK), Citi (US), Societe Generale (France), Credit Agricole/Calyon (France), RBS (UK), Deutsche Bank (Germany), HSBC (UK/HongKong), JPMorgan (US), and the Bank of China. Together, these ten banks provided 92 billion euro (US$ 113 billion) to the nuclear industry in the period 2000-2009, over half of the total amount identified by the research.

BankTrack and partners have pledged to confront all financiers of upcoming nuclear projects, twenty of which are presented at the website. The website will serve as a platform to inform  the public as well as clients and stakeholders on the involvement of banks in the nuclear sector and to mobilize massive opposition to this support. Key targets are any banks considering financing the Mochovce nuclear reactors in Slovakia, the planned Angra III plant  in Brazil, the Jaitapur nuclear plant in India, or the Koeberg plant in South Africa.

"Nuclear power covers only a few percent of world energy needs, but it poses massive environmental, health and security hazards. Building more reactors would also be a dangerous waste of time in global efforts to combat climate change: emissions of greenhouse gases have to peak and then significantly decrease in the next ten years, while reactors take a decade or longer to build. Time and resources must instead be used for implementation of renewable energy and energy efficiency measures. In many countries, nuclear policy has become an obstacle to finding effective solutions to the climate crisis and achieving energy security" said Jan Beranek, nuclear energy project leader of Greenpeace International.

"Too many well known banks that otherwise have taken laudable steps towards sustainability, are still investing heavily in the nuclear industry, putting the world on the wrong energy track. Sustainable banking and financing nuclear energy are simply incompatible" said Johan Frijns, BankTrack coordinator.

"Banks need to wake up to the fact that nuclear energy is extremely unpopular with the wider public. For example, a March 2010 European Commission survey found that 52 percent of Europeans consider nuclear power to be a risk for themselves and their families, with only 17 % in favor of increasing the use of nuclear energy. This shows that bank support for this dangerous and dirty form of energy will in the long run alienate many of their customers", said Heffa Schuecking of Urgewald in Germany.

Source: Press release BankTrack, 26 May 2010
Contacts: Johan Frijns, coordinator BankTrack,
Tel: +31 6 12421667