Climate Week: Advocacy groups push banks for Amazon oil, gas exclusion policy

Tuesday September 21, 2021

U.S., European banks have critical role in ending oil, gas financing in globally important rainforest

NEW YORK — A virtual Climate Week event held today, Tuesday, September 21, 2021, highlighted the critical role U.S. and European banks must play in ending oil and gas financing in the Amazon rainforest. The event, led by international environmental advocacy groups and Amazon Indigenous leaders, revealed a new “Exit Amazon Oil & Gas” campaign and exclusion policy that banks must immediately implement to help protect this globally important rainforest. 

The push by Stand.earth and Amazon Watch for an Amazon oil and gas exclusion policy follows the precedent set by the successful Indigenous-led campaign for major banks to exclude financing for oil and gas drilling in the Arctic, which many banks committed to in 2020. Like the new Amazon oil and gas exclusion policy, the Arctic exclusions were not only geographic in nature, but were also centered around the need for banks to adopt trade and investment policies that help mitigate climate change, preserve biodiversity, and respect Indigenous rights.

The major U.S. and European banks implicated in oil and gas financing in the Amazon rainforest include JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, and others. Banks that can build on existing trade financing commitments in the Amazon headwaters region of Ecuador and Peru include ING, Credit Suisse, Natixis, and BNP Paribas.

“Similar to the successful Indigenous-led campaign for major banks to exclude financing for oil drilling in the Arctic, environmental advocates are now being joined by Indigenous leaders in calling on banks to immediately adopt an Amazon exclusion policy: a commitment to end financing for any oil and gas activity in the Amazon rainforest, in line with the need for a global shift out of fossil fuels,” said Tyson Miller, Forest Programs Director at Stand.earth.

“Due to the continued financing of industrial oil and gas activity in the Amazon rainforest from major U.S. and European banks, the rainforest is now at a tipping point, poised to become a climate change accelerator as it converts from being one of the world's largest carbon sinks to a carbon emitter. That’s why we need an urgent adoption of an Amazon exclusion policy from the world's leading financial institutions,” said Pendle Marshall-Hallmark, Climate & Finance Campaigner at Amazon Watch. 

AMAZON AT A TIPPING POINT

The Amazon rainforest is nearing a tipping point thanks to the massive degradation of this interconnected ecosystem. Scientists define the tipping point as the moment at which enough deforestation occurs that the Amazon will no longer be able to sustain itself, which will trigger the dieback of the entire rainforest. Due to the looming nature of these threats, which would have massive implications in the region and for the global climate, advocacy groups Stand.earth and Amazon Watch are calling for: 

  • An immediate commitment (by the end of 2021 at the latest) to not finance or invest in the expansion of any oil or gas activities in the Amazon Biome.
  • A commitment to end, by 2025, financing and investment for any and all companies currently engaged in oil or gas activities, for the purpose of facilitating the responsible wind down of operations.
  • A commitment to exit all loans, letters of credit, and revolving credit facilities for all traders actively trading oil or gas originating in the Amazon Biome by the end of 2022.

The groups also support the Indigenous-led Amazonia For Life: 80% by 2025 initiative that was recently approved at the IUCN. (RSVP for a Climate Week webinar on the initiative on Wednesday, September 22, 2021, from 2-3 p.m. ET.)

“Our collective fight to defend our territories is a fight to protect the planet from the climate crisis we are currently living in. A geographic exclusion policy is a commitment from banks to exclude all types of financing and investment in any kind of oil or gas activity carried out in the Amazon. This is an urgent and necessary proposal that aligns with our call to protect at least 80% of the Amazon rainforest before 2025. The IUCN has already approved this measure, and corporations must follow this mandate. Any bank that continues to support the fossil fuel industries that are destroying the largest tropical rainforest in the world cannot declare itself an ally in the fight to protect our future and that of the planet,” said José Gregorio Díaz Mirabal, General Coordinator of COICA, the Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin.

BACKGROUND

The launch of the “Exit Amazon Oil & Gas” campaign and exclusion policy follows the release of Stand.earth and Amazon Watch’s “Banking on Amazon Destruction” July 2021 report failing global banks for their financing and investment in the oil and gas industry in the Amazon rainforest. The report revealed that despite sustainability commitments and risk management screening processes, banks remain highly exposed to the risk of funding corruption, human rights violations, environmental harms — and ultimately, climate chaos — due to their ongoing relationships with companies and traders operating in the region.

That July 2021 report came on the heels of Stand.earth and Amazon Watch’s August 2020 investigationthat first exposed European banks for financing the trade of Amazon oil from the Amazon headwaters region of Ecuador and Peru. 

Both reports led to commitments by top banks — including IntesaNatixisBNP Paribas, Credit Suisse, and ING — to uphold their policies and end trade financing in the Amazon headwaters region of Ecuador and Peru, an important first step in exiting Amazon oil and gas.

###

Media contacts: 
Virginia Cleaveland, media@stand.earth, +1 510 858 9902 (Pacific Time)
Ada Recinos, ada@amazonwatch.org, +1 510 473 7542 (Pacific Time)