I’m all teary-eyed

This, an ad thanking Citigroup, which has been decried as the Most Destructive Bank in the World by the Rainforest Action Network for its reckless funding of development projects that endangered indigenous peoples, tropical rainforests, etc.? Thanks to a corporation fraught with malicious business practices, issues of questionable political funding, and so forth?

“Thank you Citigroup.” And the ad is by—get this—the Rainforest Action Network, no less! And does a single “policy declaration” by the world’s largest financial institution (formerly known as the world’s most destructive bank) suddenly make the world a happy place?

The appropriate answer here is probably: yes and no.

Mostly no and partly yes, but the important thing to keep in mind is that there’s some yes in the answer.

As much as I love to hate Citi, I reckon this is a start. Hopefully. There’s this statement explaining the “understanding” between Citi and RAN. Most of it’s fairly vague, generic “yeah, we can’t just ignore the fact that people and forests have value,” but again: it’s a start. And something to hold the company to; particularly phrases like this, which, given the corporate context, are actually quite remarkable:

“Citigroup and Rainforest Action Network recognize that every institution has a role to play in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the decrease in dependence on the carbon intensive fuels.”

Something to consider here is that Citigroup is GIANT. Like, humongous. With revenues upwards of $100 billion and assets in the neighborhood of $1+ trillion. So in other words, this small, admittedly fairly timid step by this giant financial services company offers some leverage against other companies, and a way to move forward.

To wit (from official RAN letters found here):

January 22, 2004
Mr. William B. Harrison, Jr.
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
JP Morgan Chase
270 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10017

Dear Mr. Harrison,

I am writing to invite you to join Rainforest Action Network in the global effort to preserve the world’s last remaining old growth forests and their traditional inhabitants and to confront global warming as one of the most pressing ecological issues of our time. Today, Citigroup, the world’s largest financial institution, raised the bar as the world’s first major bank to commit to a global policy addressing the crisis in the world’s forest and climate. This landmark announcement clearly signals a sea change in how the financial sector commits itself to these challenges.

Michael Brune
Executive Director

If you feel like it, you can send your own letter. Anyway, maybe there’s hope yet.