This October, over ninety of the world’s largest banks will meet in Brazil to discuss their commitments under the Equator Principles, a collectively agreed set of rules for financing big infrastructure projects. These 'Equator Banks' have all promised to finance such projects in a ‘socially responsible manner’ and to avoid negative impacts on climate change wherever possible.
It sounds good, but it’s not working.
The Principles as they are written now are not stopping banks from financing disaster projects that have a devastating impact on the climate. Coal power plants, coal mines, tar sands exploration and transport, oil pipelines, LNG plants, deepwater oil rigs, exploration projects in the Arctic and more, have all qualified for bank lending under the Equator Principles.
Nor are these Principles stopping banks from financing disaster projects that trample on the rights of Indigenous Peoples, fully recognised in international law, to reject projects they do not want on their traditional territories. From the Americas to Australia, Indigenous Peoples find themselves on the front line of struggles against fossil fuel extraction and transport projects, but also large hydro and other infrastructure projects that threaten their lands and traditional way of life.
The Dakota Access Pipeline in the United States, fiercely opposed by the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Lakota Tribes, and the Agua Zarca hydro project in Honduras, where Indigenous leader Berta Cáceres was murdered for leading the Lenca people’s opposition to the project, are but two examples of projects financed by banks under the Equator Principles.
What good are such Principles when they allow these disaster projects to be built?
We demand that at their meeting this October, Equator Banks commit to a new set of Principles that stops the financing of climate disasters and fully respects Indigenous Peoples’ rights and territories.
Please read our Call to the Equator Banks below, then sign up by using the form.
Stop financing Climate Disasters
Respect Indigenous peoples' rights and territories
This October 23-25, 91 banks will meet in São Paulo, Brazil to discuss their social and environmental commitments under the Equator Principles.
While these Principles are to ensure that adopting banks do not finance projects with a large negative impact on people and planet, Equator Banks continue to support projects that pose a massive threat to the world’s climate, such as coal, oil and gas extraction, transportation and power generation projects. Equator Banks also continue to finance fossil fuel and other projects that trample on the rights and interests of Indigenous Peoples.
We are appalled that the Equator Principles as formulated today allow Equator Banks to finance projects that are a disaster for the world's’ climate and for Indigenous peoples. For the Principles to be a meaningful sustainability commitment they need to be fully overhauled.
We therefore call on the Equator Principles Association to agree in Brazil to a full revision process for the Principles, so that they reflect at minimum two solid commitments:
1. Stop Financing Climate Disasters:
- include a full commitment to the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global temperature rise to below 2 degrees, aiming for 1,5 degrees;
- include stringent and binding criteria that all projects to be financed under the Equator framework be fully aligned with reaching the Paris Agreement goals; and for this reason:
- explicitly exclude all new fossil fuel extraction, transportation and power projects from financing under the Equator Principles.
2. Respect Indigenous Peoples’ Rights and Territories:
- include an explicit commitment to uphold the right of Indigenous Peoples anywhere in the world to give or deny Free, Prior and Informed Consent for projects situated on territories they traditionally use and occupy;
- commit to not financing projects, neither directly or indirectly, that did not obtain such consent;
- strengthen due diligence and consultation processes to ensure that Indigenous Peoples’ rights are fully respected;
- ensure that Indigenous Peoples and other project-affected communities have full access to grievance channels with project sponsors and financing banks when their rights and interests are violated.
In Brazil, Equator Banks face a choice between deepening their collective commitment to effectively stop financing climate change and respect Indigenous Peoples’ rights, or see the Equator initiative become irrelevant for meeting the pressing social and environmental challenges the world faces today. We expect that the Equator Banks will act decisively on this call.
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