Independent Online

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Like us on FacebookFollow us on TwitterView weather by locationView market indicators

Climate activists call for action following protests outside Standard Bank’s AGM

Climate activists from 350Africa, EarthLife Africa, and Extinction Rebellion (XR) South Africa protested outside Standard Bank’s headquarters during their AGM. Picture: Malik Dasoo/XR SOUTH AFRICA

Climate activists from 350Africa, EarthLife Africa, and Extinction Rebellion (XR) South Africa protested outside Standard Bank’s headquarters during their AGM. Picture: Malik Dasoo/XR SOUTH AFRICA

Published Jun 3, 2022

Share

Cape Town - Climate activists have called for action following protests outside Standard Bank’s annual general meeting this week against 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.

This was the fourth year in a row that Standard Bank’s Board and executives were inundated with questions from members of the “Stop Eacop Campaign” about the bank’s “reckless approach to climate risk in Africa”.

Story continues below Advertisement

Eacop is a 1 443km heated crude oil pipeline that would transport oil extracted by TotalEnergies in Uganda, through multiple areas of irreplaceable biodiversity, displacing thousands of local people from their land, for export to foreign markets.

Just Share climate change engagement director Robyn Hugo said activists from 350Africa, EarthLife Africa, and Extinction Rebellion (XR) South Africa protested outside Standard Bank’s headquarters during their AGM.

They demanded an end to fossil fuel financing and immediate commitment to withdraw its involvement in Eacop.

“As the continent’s largest funder of oil and gas, the bank has consistently claimed that these projects ‘support access to reliable energy that supports economic growth and poverty alleviation’. This position is not in line with climate science, nor with the reality of fossil fuel extraction in Africa,” Hugo said.

Stop Eacop campaign co-ordinator, Omar Elmawi said: “We have gotten 20 banks, eight insurers and key export credit agencies to confirm they will not be involved in the Eacop’s financing and underwriting.”

Given the impacts the pipeline will have on communities, protected wildlife areas, water sources and the climate, Hugo said more and more companies were making public statements distancing themselves from this project.

Story continues below Advertisement

At the AGM, activist shareholders that represented 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 detailed questions.

However, Hugo said Standard Bank chief executive Sim Tshabalala, chairperson Thulani Gcabashe and other executives repeatedly deflected these questions by referring to the Group’s climate change policy, which “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”.

BankTrack human rights campaign leader, Ryan Brightwell said Standard Bank repeatedly stressed at its AGM that it has not made a decision about whether to finance Eacop, but the bank has been acting as a financial adviser to the project for four years, so it is helping to facilitate it.

Story continues below Advertisement

Standard Bank media liaison Ross Linstrom previously said the Standard Bank Group was following its own internal processes and, along with its banking partners, it has retained the services of an independent environmental and social adviser relating to the Eacop.

[email protected]

Cape Argus

Story continues below Advertisement

Share