When it comes to Climate Change the financial sector plays a huge role. One of the most prominent banks in this sector is Standard Chartered Bank, which is not just like any financial institution – it is not just a “standard” (pun intended) bank. In fact, we are calling it a “climate killer”. Why are we doing this, you might ask?
Well, if someone says they are “here for good” and simultaneously finance the Climate Crisis, which is currently destroying thousands of communities around the globe, they definitely deserve to be called a climate killer. Do you agree? Yes? Now, what if we told you that SCB isn’t doing just that?
Before we get to talk about what exactly is that abnormal about SCB, let’s start with the very basics. Standard Chartered is a British multinational banking and financial services company with its headquarters in London, England. It operates a network of more than 1,200 branches and outlets across more than 70 countries and employs around 87,000 people. Despite its UK base, it does not conduct retail banking in the UK, and around 90% of its profits come from Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.
Unfortunately, SCB is also one of the world’s largest coal financiers. It has a significant impact on MAPA (Most Affected People and Areas) due to its investments. With $8.5 billion, this bank has provided the most financing for coal expansion since the Paris Agreement. The SCB has financed multiple projects in MAPA-countries. These include PLN Persero, Indonesia Asahan Aluminium, Adaro Energy in Indonesia and Top Frontier Investment Holdings, Aboitiz Equity Ventures, and Marubeni Corporation in the Philippines. Top Frontier Investment Holdings were given 1.6 billion USD between January 2016 and August 2020 by SCB. They also financially support a company called AES, which is active in Argentina.
Furthermore, they funded the coal mining companies Glencore and Anglo American. These companies are headquartered in Switzerland and the UK, however, their business lies mainly in South Africa, Colombia, and Australia. SCB additionally sponsors the Canadian company First Quantum Minerals which is currently constructing a coal power plant in Botswana. In South Africa, they finance Eskom which is operating incredibly dirty coal plants and still has massive expansion plans.
Thus, without a doubt, SCB is one of the world’s most aggressive coal plant expansionists, interested in subsidizing companies that are located in Global North nations but have their businesses in MAPA-nations.
Most of these fossil fuel projects are being pushed forward despite local resistance, and despite calls from scientists and numerous political leaders to transition to renewables. The locals and experts know and understand the potential impacts of fossil fuels on their communities and homeland far better than some foreign companies.
As Cooper Price and Sofia Price – youth climate activists from Climate Strike Canada – stated:
“What Standard Chartered fails to see is that by continuing to fund these projects they are not only fueling the Climate Crisis but actively running towards the downfall of their company. Standard Chartered does business in some of the countries most affected by Climate Change. Without the business of those countries, Standard Chartered would not be where they are today. Even putting aside the issue of climate change, divestment is a smart and necessary financial move for any company hoping to remain competitive in the market. [World leaders’ and CEOs’] claims that Climate Change is the biggest issue for them, and one being addressed by their bank, are frankly deceiving and outrageous.“
Because of SCB’s funding of coal projects, Fridays For Future has launched an international campaign to demand that the bank ceases its extensive funding of fossil fuel companies worldwide. The campaign is supported by 21 other local groups; it aims to put pressure on SCB into ending its contribution to these dirty projects.
With COP26 being held in the UK, FFF is taking the opportunity to hold the London-headquartered SCB accountable. Some of the actions organized include social media storms, open letters, and physical and digital strikes targeting Standard Chartered Bank.
Climate Strike Canada is taking a similar approach, Cooper and Sofia Price said;
“While Standard Chartered is wreaking havoc on ecosystems and communities with their investments, they’re not the only bank. Canada’s big banks – RBC, TD, ScotiaBank – are among the largest funders of fossil fuels worldwide. The movement to stop the greenwashing and the despicable actions of SCB is linked in so many ways to the movement to stop Canadian banks from doing the same. While we’ll be supporting #CleanUpStandardChartered with online actions, we’ll be taking to the streets across Canada to demand our big banks divest and decarbonize. “
The climate crisis is an existential issue facing humanity; with global temperatures already above 1.2°C above pre-industrial levels, we have to take and call upon our global leaders to start taking the climate crisis seriously and acting on it. We won’t be silent while banks and businesses are fueling our destruction.
As climate activists, we will not just sit and watch while SCB profits off the destruction of our future. Standard Chartered Bank, we are watching you.