STANDARD Bank’s annual general meeting was attended by climate activists, local and from abroad, who came to question the bank’s involvement in the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP), gas extraction in Mozambique, and its support for fossil fuel expansion on the continent.
The event was the second on Tuesday that indicates the growing policy and civil demands being placed on financial institutions to begin to take climate change seriously.
On the same day, in Germany, prosecutors raided the offices of Deutsche Bank and its asset management subsidiary DWS as part of an investigation into so-called greenwashing, which was being viewed as investment fraud.
It was the fourth year that Standard’s executives faced questions from the global #StopEACOP campaign. Outside the bank’s headquarters at the same time were activists from 350Africa, EarthLife Africa and XR South Africa, a statement from the activists said.
All the bank’s resolutions were voted for in favour by the majority of the shareholders, and 99.7 percent of shareholders also voted in favour of a resolution filed by shareholder activist organisation Just Share and Aeon Investment Management.
The resolution wants the bank to calculate and disclose the financed greenhouse gas emissions from its exposure to oil and gas, and set targets for reducing that exposure in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement.
The EACOP is a 1443km heated crude oil pipeline that will transport oil extracted by TotalEnergies in Uganda, to the Port of Tanga in Tanzania, from where the oil will be exported.
Activists say the pipeline will traverse areas of sensitive and irreplaceable biodiversity and displace thousands of people from their land. More than 20 banks have stated that they will not join the project loan, a statement from the activists said.
Activist shareholders representing civil society organisations AFIEGO, the Laudato Si Movement, BankTrack, 350Africa, JA!/Friends of the Earth Mozambique, Just Share, and the Centre for Environmental Rights asked questions at the AGM.
Standard Bank chief executive Sim Tshabalala and other executives deflected their questions by referring to the group’s climate change policy, which it said “is based on the imperative of the just transition for Africa and the principle of common but differentiated responsibility for countries at differentiated levels of development codified in the Paris Agreement”.
Tshabalala said a social and environmental consultant’s report into the EACOP project, commissioned by Standard Bank, would be made publicly available - a final report was being reviewed by the lender.
Ilham Rawoot of Justiça Ambiental (JA!)/Friends of the Earth Mozambique said in a statement: “Although many other financiers are doing a full reassessment of their involvement in these LNG (liquefied natural gas) projects, Standard Bank continues to fund them.
“Despite the claims that gas production would improve Mozambican government revenues, support wider economic development and address energy needs, Mozambicans are poorer than they were a decade ago and the country will be left with stranded assets and no resources to support an alternative development pathway.”
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