Indigenous delegates at COP26 endorse campaign demanding banks exit Amazon oil & gas

Thursday November 04, 2021

Dutch bank ING becomes latest to end oil financing in region, implement demands of Stand.earth, Amazon Watch’s new campaign

GLASGOW — Several Amazonian Indigenous delegates at COP26 became the latest to endorse the new Exit Amazon Oil & Gas campaign, speaking at a press briefing alongside North American-based environmental advocacy organizations Stand.earth and Amazon Watch on Thursday, November 4, in Glasgow. The campaign is calling for global banks to end oil and gas financing in the Amazon rainforest.

At the press briefing, a new commitment from Dutch bank ING was also announced. ING becomes the latest bank to commit to ending new oil financing in the region, specifically in Peru, after previously committing to end new oil financing in Ecuador earlier this year. ING joins fellow European banks Credit Suisse, BNP Paribas, Natixis, and Intesa in making commitments to end Amazon oil financing. 

“Under ING’s new commitment, the bank will no longer provide new financing for two of the three countries exporting Amazon oil: Ecuador and Peru. This commitment is particularly meaningful because it demonstrates the continued movement of global banks ending oil and gas financing in regions where Indigenous communities have expressed concerns. Most importantly, ING’s new commitment focuses on Peru, where many Indigenous land defenders have been killed, and which has Indigenous peoples living in voluntary isolation who are at increased risk from the impacts of oil drilling and spills,” said Tzeporah Berman, International Programs Director at Stand.earth.

Environmental advocates called out JP Morgan Chase and UBS as two of the worst actors operating in the Amazon rainforest, despite having climate commitments in place, including JP Morgan Chase’s recent net zero commitment.

This new push for a geographical financial exclusion comes at a critical time in the global shift out of fossil fuels, and falls in line with broader calls from Indigenous and environmental activists to protect the Amazon. New research released at COP26 shows that the Amazon biome has already reached its tipping point in some areas and is transitioning from rainforest to savanna, with some parts of the rainforest emitting more carbon than is captured. 

“The Amazon and our global climate are in a state of emergency. We’re running out of time to avert catastrophic climate chaos. It’s time to listen to Indigenous peoples and address the tremendous debt owed by the Global North to the Global South for its unfair share in driving climate chaos. Ironically, this year’s COP is one of the most exclusive and inequitable in history leaving key voices of  Indigenous peoples out of the conversation around how to achieve climate justice,” said Leila Salazar-López, Executive Director at Amazon Watch. 

The Exit Amazon Oil & Gas campaign calls on all banks to:

  • Immediately commit to end financing for the expansion of oil and gas activities in the Amazon as soon as possible and no later than the end of 2022
  • Commit to end financing for all currently operational oil and gas activities in the Amazon by the end of 2025, for the purpose of facilitating a responsible wind down of operations
  • Commit 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

INDIGENOUS ENDORSEMENTS

“Our collective resistance to defend our territories is resistance 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, Wakuenai Kurripaco (Venezuela) and General Coordinator, Coordinating Body of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA).

At the press briefing, several major endorsements by Indigenous delegates at COP26 of the Exit Amazon Oil & Gas campaign were announced: Jorge Pérez, with the Interethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Rainforest (AIDESEP); Nemo Andy Guiquita, with the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon (CONFENIAE); and Helena Gualinga, an Indigenous youth activist of the Kichwa Sarayaku community of Ecuador. 

“We need to call for, first of all, a phase out of all fossil fuels from all governments but also all the banks that are financing these projects. Stop financing the abuse of human rights and stop financing the destruction of the Amazon. It is not possible for us to combat climate change without actually addressing the root cause, which is the fossil fuel industry. And I think we all have a responsibility here. Not just Indigenous peoples, that with our own bodies are protecting the Amazon, and are protecting our own territories,” said Helena Gualinga, an Indigenous youth activist of the Kichwa Sarayaku community of Ecuador. “We need commitments from governments and from banks, we need commitments from everyone that has the power to change. So I call on all the banks that are financing mining, oil and fossil fuels: This could be your commitment, not only to COP26, but this could be your commitment to the entire world and my generation.”

“We, the original peoples, protect 80% of the world’s biodiversity. We demand that banks stop financing fossil fuels and ensure the the life of all of humanity. We want to continue to exist, and for the forest to remain living for everyone. #KawsakSacha” said Marisela Gualinga, Vice President of the Kichwa of Sarayaku, Ecuadorian Amazon.

BACKGROUND

To address the Amazon emergency and avert the tipping point, Indigenous peoples are leading efforts to call for the permanent protection of the Amazon. In September, Indigenous leaders from across the Amazon launched a call and passed a resolution to protect 80% of the Amazon by 2025 at the IUCN World Conservation Congress. The call continues here at COP26 to inform global government and private sector policies on the Amazon, including a call on global financial firms to end financing for extractive industrial activity in the Amazon.

The push for an Amazon oil & gas exclusion policy follows a precedent set by the successful Indigenous-led push for major banks to exclude financing for oil drilling in the Arctic. The geographic nature of the Arctic exclusions, as well as the climate change, biodiversity, and Indigenous rights rationale behind them, are an example and a broad roadmap for a similar commitment in the Amazon.

The Exit Amazon Oil & Gas campaign comes out of years of research completed by Stand.earth and Amazon Watch that exposes links between leading European and U.S. banks and the Amazon oil and gas trade. Several major European banks committed to end financing for the trade of oil from the Ecuadorian port of Esmeraldas following the publication of an August 2020 report from Stand.earth and Amazon Watch that showed how banks were in violation of their own sustainability commitments by continuing to finance the trade of oil originating from Indigenous territories in the Amazon. 

A July 2021 report by Stand.earth and Amazon Watch titled Banking on Amazon Destruction broadened the scope of investigation to reveal the ways that not only European, but also U.S. banks, remain highly exposed to the risks of Indigenous rights violations, environmental degradation, corruption, and other harms due to their ongoing relationships with companies and traders operating in the Amazon rainforest. Campaigners are in ongoing communication with major European and U.S. banks, but as of COP26, no major bank has come forward to commit to a full exclusion of financing for oil and gas in the Amazon biome.

Learn more at exitamazonoilandgas.org

A recording of the press briefing is available at https://www.facebook.com/standearth.

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Media contacts

North America: Virginia Cleaveland, U.S. Media Director, Stand.earth, +1 510 858 9902, media@stand.earth 

Glasgow: Pendle Marshall-Hallmark, Climate Finance Campaigner, Amazon Watch, +1 585 752 2976 (WhatsApp and Signal)