Doom and gloom with banks’ continued support of fossil fuel projects
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Cape Town - Members of Extinction Rebellion (XR) Cape Town banded together over the weekend for protest action outside Standard Bank’s Constantia branch, demanding that the bank, and other banks, turn off their funding pipeline to fossil fuel companies in solidarity with the global Defund Climate Chaos campaign.
With the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) taking place this week where continued support of the fossil fuel industry will remain a hot topic, XR Cape Town said emissions of greenhouse gases continued to rise as a result of banks and investors' willingness to pour billions into fossil fuel projects.
“Standard Bank says in its own policy documents that it supports the Paris Agreement, but it also says that it will still fund companies exploiting coal, oil, and gas reserves because Africa needs energy. These two policies are incompatible,” said XR Cape Town spokesperson Judy Scott-Goldman.
The group agreed that Africa needed energy, but implored Standard Bank to shift funding away from coal, oil and gas and invest in renewable energy and technological innovation.
“We urge Standard Bank to withdraw from funding or arranging finance for Total’s 1 445km East African Crude Oil Pipeline (Eacop) in line with other banks that have dissociated themselves from this catastrophic project,” said Scott-Goldman.
The spokesperson said during the protest, members dressed up as “profits of doom” and wore black for its association with mourning and the black of oil slicks, with bags of money dripping the blood of the species that were going extinct as a result.
The group handed over a list of demands that required Standard Bank to not fund or arrange finance for any new coal, oil, or gas projects, to withdraw support for Eacop and lastly to set out time-specific steps towards achieving a net zero target by 2050, thus making transparent how it will operationalise its support for the Paris Agreement.
XR member Cassi Goodman said there were plenty of passers-by for the protest action, of which about 70% were indifferent and going about their business, 30% were curious and 10% interested in taking a leaflet and engaging.
“Renewables are too expensive and we already have a shortage of electricity in SA,” said one a passer-by.
Whereas another passer-by commented: “I’ve been telling the bank this for years.”
Previously Standard Bank said: “With regards to future lending, all proposed transactions are subject to our credit policies and environmental and social risk screening in line with the Equator Principles and IFC Performance Standards.
“All existing lending is managed in accordance with these policies, standards, as well as national legislation and national commitments under the Paris Agreement.
“Africa has an urgent need for reliable and affordable energy for its sustainable and inclusive growth and development, and as such Standard Bank will continue to play a role in financing the provision of energy in line with the Paris Agreement.“