Many major banks have already decried the practice of mountaintop removal coal mining—an especially destructive form of mining that, as the name suggests, pretty much involves removing the top of a mountain and scooping up what's inside. Yet despite their rhetoric, the money kept flowing.
That dynamic may be beginning to change, however. The Guardian reports that PNC Bank has just announced a significant cut in its funding for mountaintop removal:
"PNC Bank has said it will no longer finance coal companies that rely on mountaintop removal for more than 25% of their production. The bank in 2010 stopped financing companies that engage in the controversial practice for more than 50% of their production. But the new policy, which came out as part of the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based bank’s corporate responsibility report Monday, means that the largest US coal producers will no longer be able to get credit from the bank, experts say."
It's worth noting, as the quote above suggests, that this doesn't mark a complete secession of funding mountaintop removal, let alone a divestment from other forms of fossil fuels. But it does mark a significant step toward more responsible finance, not to mention a major victory for campaigners.
The move comes at a time when everyone from the National Bank of Abu Dhabi through the Governor of the Bank of England to Norway's sovereign wealth fund are exhibiting concerns about the long-term wisdom of investing too heavily in fossil fuels.
This is how the transition will happen.
Bit by bit. Institution by institution. And industry by industry. We are beginning to see some real progress in moving beyond fossil fuels. And not a moment too soon.