The BankTrack blog has a new home: http://www.banktrack.org/blog.
The BankTrack blog has a new home: http://www.banktrack.org/blog.
As Facing Finance launches its 4th edition of the Dirty Profits report exposing companies and financial institutions benefiting from violations of human rights, BankTrack examines why banks are not making more progress towards meeting the human rights responsibilities established by the UN.
While the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights are not perfect, their full adoption by the banking sector could spur real progress in business adherence to human rights standards across the board, making corporate activities which cause human rights abuses less likely to find the finance they need to proceed, and providing more avenues for victims to seek justice. Yet four years on from the endorsement of the Guiding Principles by the UN Human Rights Council, banks are still a long way from fully adopting them.
By Greig Aitken and Yann Louvel, BankTrack, 4 February 2016
As we’ve been settling into the new year and wondering how visible and – crucially – rapid any genuine follow through from the words of the Paris climate summit would be, there’s been a nagging concern at the back of our minds: in what’s supposed to be these new, ambitious ‘1.5 degree Celsius limit’ times, what’s going to be the first major new coal installation investment of 2016, and who’s going to be bankrolling it?
Earlier this week I was able to participate and ask a question at one of the many Paris COP21 side events: the launch of the ‘Five Voluntary Principles for Mainstreaming Climate Action within Financial Institutions’, convened by a group of public ‘development’ banks including the World Bank, the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The new principles so far have 26 banks from the public and private sectors on board, and appear set to be touted for further signatories in the coming months.
These are the latest in a series of voluntary principles on climate by global banks which have gone nowhere over the past decade – see the Carbon Principles and Climate Principles, launched in 2008, which subsequently disappeared without a trace. My general impression is that these principles won’t go far either. They appear, though, to have served another purpose for the financial sector, providing PR greenwashing at the most important climate gathering of the decade.
By Lucie Pinson, Friends of the Earth France and Yann Louvel, BankTrack, 8 December 2015
The Tata Mundra coal-fired power plant in India is one of the largest power plants in Asia and for years now has been the subject of much controversy. The first of the Indian government’s so-called UMPP plants, an ambitious series of ‘ultra mega power plants’ to be rolled out all across the country, it was launched in 2008 and has been fully operational since 2013.
And it’s been seven years of controversy since BNP Paribas, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and several Indian banks decided to finance the project in 2008 in spite of its many risks. Faced with the environmental and social impacts of the plant, directly affected local communities took steps against the World Bank in 2011, and then against the Asian Development Bank in 2013. In addition to the 30 million tons of carbon dioxide emitted annually by Tata Mundra, the construction of the plant itself caused the polluting of rivers, the destruction of mangroves, and seriously affected the lives of local fishermen who have lost their livelihoods. All this to see electricity prices increase instead of the better access to electricity that was promised.
Today’s birthday, then, of World Bank president Dr Jim Kim, and the Pinocchio Prize picked up by BNP Paribas in the last few days in the ‘Local impacts’ category, provide an opportunity to reflect on the current status of the Tata Mundra project and the demands of communities that still remain unsatisfied.
Earlier this week I attended this year’s United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights, where some 2,300 representatives of business, government and civil society met on the shores of Lake Geneva, in November weather which was eerily spring-like.
The Forum is intended to take stock of the challenges and ways forward in putting into practice the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. One thing we considered a major challenge when it comes to the banking sector is its lack of progress on providing access to remedy for those affected by human rights impacts – so we were pleased to see a panel discussion on “providing access to effective remedy in the financial sector” on the Forum’s main agenda.
Just a couple of days ago we were bravo-ing BNP Paribas as it and fellow French banks Crédit Agricole and Société Générale confirmed they have ruled out financing for highly controversial coal mine projects in Australia’s Galilee Basin. Whether this shunning of major coal financing will be a watershed moment for the French banks remains to be seen. Along with our colleagues at Friends of the Earth France, who’ve set up a petition site for French bank customers to urge their banks to commit to end all coal sector financing by the end of this year, we’re certainly intent on keeping up the pressure following this big Gallic Galilee success.
ABN AMRO will not provide APRIL with new loans until the Indonesian pulp and paper company stops clearing rainforests and can prove that it is operating in a sustainable way. The bank has also called on APRIL to immediately stop the destruction of Indonesian rainforests. ABN AMRO communicated this decision to Greenpeace Netherlands last Friday, March 6th. At the same time it posted a declaration on its website on its dedication to nature conservation:
“ABN AMRO does not want to have anything to do with any transactions or activities that are in conflict with nature conservation. The bank does not finance any companies that are involved in illegal logging or trading wood that has been illegally cut down. Nor does it want to finance companies contributing to deforestation or the destruction of ecologically critical areas.”
The bank’s move follows a similar announcement from the Spanish bank Santander. On February 25th, Santander made a public statement in which it said that it had “decided to not renew the current funding to APRIL and will not be extending further funding at this stage”.
ABN AMRO’s move comes after months of negotiations led by Greenpeace and supported by Banktrack and the Environmental Paper Network. ABN AMRO has now declared it will continue talks with the NGOs in order to further improve its policies to ensure that it will no longer finance rainforest destruction in the future.
Since this coming Saturday is both Global Divestment Day *and* Valentine’s Day, we’ve designed this beautiful Valentine’s card for you to send your bank. Post it to their Facebook page to let them know your true feelings! Or why not print it and send it in the post with a personalized greeting?
Huffington Post blog.
After nearly destroying the global financial system, big international banks are yet again undermining international stability, this time by underwriting the coal industry’s devastating effect on climate disruption and human health.