image of the garzweiler mine by RWE

An explosive investigation, led by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, on the front page of the Times Business section revealed last week that HSBC lent a huge amount of money to a German utility company that is currently *expanding* one of its coal mines, shortly after HSBC pledged not to fund coal expansion.

The Garzweiler mine, which is owned by energy giant RWE, produces 25m tonnes of the dirtiest form of coal every year. That’s a humongous amount of pollution released into the environment when burned. But RWE now wants to increase the size of the mine and how much coal it produces. The world simply can’t stand any more planet-heating emissions.

But it gets worse.

In order to make room for the mine expansion, RWE is demolishing and evacuating villages in the west of Germany. Friends of the Earth Germany says the Garzweiler mine has already engulfed 13 villages with thousands of residents being resettled. Churches, schools and village halls have all been bulldozed.

The village of Lützerath is the final frontier in RWE’s plan to destroy livelihoods and the planet, aided by HSBC. German police arrested activists who were fighting back bulldozers last week.

It’s no wonder HSBC didn’t want anyone knowing about their deal with RWE. Journalists were informed that HSBC bankers actually stopped to consider whether lending money to this company was the right thing to do. They queried whether the deal complied with their new coal policy which they’d updated only *three months before*! On top of that, bankers rightly questioned the company’s plans to demolish villages.

But the deal was green-lighted anyway, and HSBC asked its client RWE not to publicise its involvement.

This all goes to show that we need to keep the scrutiny and pressure up on the banks. At every opportunity, they will try and ignore the planet and its people when they see dollar signs. Regulators need to seriously sit up and regulate the hell out of the banks when it comes to funding fossil fuels.