I got a date with Citi! (or, Inside the Citi AGM)

Written by Becky Tarbotton

Topics: Coal, Finance

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I’m about to hop on a plane to Charlotte, but I wanted to capture some of the excitement from Citi’s Annual Shareholder Meeting. It was an amazing day – there were over 50 activists outside on the streets making sure that every shareholder that entered the meeting had absolutely NO doubt that Citi is funding coal and why it should stop. The New York crew were amazing – as always, creative and kick-ass every last one.

Appalachia’s own Maria Gunnoe and I went inside the meeting on proxies and spoke in support of shareholder resolution #9, calling on Citi to cease financing of coal-fired power plants and mountaintop removal coal mining. Inside, the scene was just about as raucous as on the streets! There must have been 500 shareholders at the meeting – most of whom were NOT happy. Obviously, Citi’s recent financial woes due to the credit crisis have shareholders antsy, and almost every question revolved around why Citi didn’t recognize the risk inherent in subprime loans. Why indeed? We want to know why Citi is heading directly from the credit crisis to the climate crisis, which is rife with financial risk, human risk, cultural risk and environmental risk.

Maria stood up and spoke movingly about the hypocrisy of releasing ‘Carbon Principles’ while continuing to fund the biggest proponents of mountaintop removal. Speaking directly to Citi CEO Vikram Pandit and Chairman Sir Win Bischoff, she asked: “Where is the principle in that?” No one had an answer for her. When it was my turn to speak, I reiterated our request to Citi to cease financing coal and climate change, and pointed out that it is the people and lands like those of Appalachia that are most impacted by our continued reliance on coal. These are the real victims of climate change.

Then I asked a simple question: Would Vikram Pandit please commit to accompanying me on a flight over Appalachia to witness the effects of mountaintop removal, financed by his bank?

He laughed and looked a little uncomfortable. I assured him that I would be a wonderful flying companion. What followed was a slightly awkward silence. Then, to my surprise, Sir Win Bischoff interjected and said: “I can commit that one of us will accompany you on that flight.”

And with that, I got a date with Citi.

As I left the meeting, several shareholders approached me to say they hoped I would be back next year to report on the flight.

My response? You bet I will.

8 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Debra says:

    Great work, Becky! Better set a date for that flight before they forget.

  2. Great work! Not surprised at all that Maria Gunoe, Becky Tarbotton “one, two” could get them not only to commit to the flight but be compelled deep down inside to go and see exactly what it is you all were talking about.

    Thanks to Scott and the NYC crew as well for always being there at the right moments.

    It is hard to explain in sufficient detail the horrors of mountaintop removal and related coal processing issues that are pulling Appalachia apart one community at a time, but I am so grateful that y’all stand up to that challenge time and time again.

    Side note: the visuals looked terrific! Great signage.

  3. Tim Barclay says:

    That sounds like it was a share holders meeting worth going to. Is there a transcript of your ‘moving’ statements to Pandit and the rest of the Board?

  4. Luke says:

    Great job, Becky — you’re even cooler than the environmentalist in the Shell movie!

  5. Scott says:

    Becky – Those boys actually have a fleet of jets. I’ve seen one myself! See if you can upgrade to one of their planes while you’re at it. They might even deliver you back home to SFO! Great Job! – S

  6. P. Brown says:

    Awesome work! Now, if we could only have as much luck with Dominion’s shareholders in two weeks…
    - P.B.

  7. Michael Brown says:

    Frankly, I am amazed at the audacity and hypocrisy of this. Did you travel in your car to get there? or perhaps on a plane? Now you want to dump more greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere with a personal inspection of the so-called “mountain top removal?” Did you miss the laws that require recontouring of the land? In fact, some hillsides in Tennessee are just now getting their contours back because of NEW mining that has taken place. I have personally visited the watersheds of some these “endangered” streams and have only seen evidence of old mining sites that are draining anything that might be questionable. Seems that people are only afraid of what they are not educated about. Wake up and smell the coal smoke! When your lights don’t come on when you flip the switch or your electric car doesn’t have any juice to plug into for a charge, what then? We COULD build nuclear plants, but that’s definitely off limits with the environmentalists.

  8. Luke says:

    Frankly, I am amazed at the audacity and hypocrisy of this. Did you travel in your car to get there?

    Actually, Becky is just a very fast walker. And she’s rigged up a device to capture and store all of the carbon dioxide she exhales while breathing and speaking, too. So she’s allowed to point out that the coal industry is destroying the planet.

    Seriously, though, pull your head out of the sand. Coal is a massive threat to our future, and claiming that mountains are better off as a result or mining is patently absurd.

Trackbacks For This Post

  1. Citi’s top executives commit to join activists in flyover of mountaintop removal ravaged Appalachia « It’s Getting Hot In Here
  2. ilovemountains » Blog Archive - End Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining » Citi Bank Executive Says He’ll Take a Flying Tour of Mountaintop Removal
  3. The Understory » Vikram Pandit - I OWN your bank

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