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Citibank responds to pressure from Indigenous leaders and environmental organizations with new Amazon policy: a step forward to address oil and gas expansion

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GLOBAL – Last week, Citibank released its new environmental and social risk management (ESRM) framework, which pledges to no longer provide project-related financing for oil and gas expansion in Amazonia. Stand.earth and the Coordinating Body of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA) welcome this step forward, but call on Citibank to adopt stronger measures that include a geographic exclusion policy for all oil and gas financing in Amazonía, which would prevent and mitigate the risks to Indigenous Peoples, biodiversity, and avert an imminent tipping point in the Amazon.

The new policy excludes financing for project-related financial products or services for expansion of oil and gas operations in the Amazon. While the updates are an improvement over previous policies, which made no such explicit exclusion, project-related deals are estimated to be only 18% of Citibank’s overall direct financing for Amazon oil and gas. That leaves out an estimated 82% of the bank’s financing in the Amazon, according to research conducted by Stand.earth Research Group using the Amazon Banks Database. For the deals that would be covered by the new exclusion policy, key terms including ‘The Amazon’, ‘project-related’ and ‘expansion’ must be defined in order for the public to understand if these changes will have a positive impact. Citibank needs to provide clear definitions as soon as possible, including adopting the RAISG definition of Amazonia in line with other banks’ policies.

The policy update comes after years of pressure from Amazonian Indigenous organizations and environmental civil society groups, and amidst a mobilization of nonviolent civil disobedience in New York City against the bank dubbed “Summer of Heat,” where activists have called on the bank to end their funding of fossil fuel projects in the Amazon and beyond. Advocacy groups recently exposed the bank’s position as the top bankroller financing Amazon oil and gas and the world’s second largest fossil fuels financier. Stand.earth and COICA’s “Greenwashing the Amazon” report shone a spotlight on major gaps in Citibank’s risk and exclusion policies that are now partially addressed through this revised risk framework.

This update coincides with the start of fire season, and just months after the basin registered its worst drought in over 120 years. With over US$ 2.3 billion of direct financing to oil and gas in the Amazon over the past 20 years, Citibank is the most complicit in the sector’s destruction of the largest rainforest on Earth. In the last 20  years, Citibank was a major financier of some of the most notorious companies behind oil exploitation in the Amazon. Examples include PetroEcuador, the state-owned company responsible for the drilling in Yasuní National Park and threatening the last uncontacted peoples in Ecuadorian territory; and Petroperú, also a state company pursuing controversial oil expansion amid Indigenous resistance in Perú.  

Another important aspect of the introduced changes is that Citibank also commits to evaluating the risk profiles of all their oil and gas clients globally. Triggers for this enhanced screening include a) the geographic location of oil and gas assets, b) the risks associated with oil and gas activities, c) the overlap with areas of high caution (including the Amazon), and d) any patterns of regulatory violations, safety incidents, community opposition or litigation related to environmental and social issues. Specific to the Amazon, Citibank now stipulates that any general corporate purpose transactions for clients with operations in the Amazon will require enhanced due diligence. This is a step in the right direction for remedying the greenwashing highlighted in Stand and COICA’s recent “Greenwashing the Amazon” report.

These new policies suggest that deals like the US$ 500 million project-related bond deal in 2023 for Hunt Oil Peru should be a thing of the past. Hunt Oil Peru is a ‘pure play’ company focused solely on the Camisea Gas Project. It holds 25% interest in two gas power plants in Peru. In 2013, the UN called for the “immediate suspension” of any plans to expand the Camisea project, due to the high likelihood that by further intrusion into the Nahua-Nanti Reserve, territory of several Indigenous Peoples in voluntary isolation and initial contact, there could be an increased risk of disease and death. The deal is project-related, and the company is operating in an area of high caution with large-scale Indigenous opposition. There will be a close eye on Citibank’s Amazon-related deals in the coming months to see if deals like this continue to pass the bank’s new due diligence framework.

Finally, the policy falls short of recognizing the damaging role of Citibank-funded oil traders like Gunvor. Gunvor recently pleaded guilty for bribery and was ordered to pay approximately $662 million by the US Justice Department for a series of corruption scandals and penalties in the US and Switzerland. Unfortunately, the new Citibank policy does not mention any exclusions or screens related to oil trading. The bank’s policies must address the risks of all their areas of finance, and include special considerations for the high degree of risk posed by intermediaries, current clients of the bank.

On Citibank’s new ESRM policy report, COICA and Stand.earth leaders offered the following statements:

Fany Kuiru, General Coordinator of the Coordinating Body of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA), said:

“Citibank has invested more than $2 billion in a massive expansion of oil and gas in the Amazon, invading our territories, polluting our rivers and making thousands of communities sick. While Citibank’s new policy is an important step toward ending oil and gas, it is insufficient with the Amazon on the brink of the tipping point. Indigenous leaders have repeatedly expressed to Citibank and its state partners the urgency of abandoning oil and gas exploration and exploitation in the face of an impending tipping point. Currently, we are facing profound climatic instability in the region. In Brazil, what began as a severe drought has turned into a humanitarian emergency due to flooding in the south of the country. Once again, I invite the leadership of Citibank to witness firsthand the effects of their decisions on the Amazon, our home. I urge Citibank to stop financing extractivism that threatens Indigenous Peoples and our livelihoods, while annihilating the biodiversity of our rainforest and driving its destruction.”

Martyna Dominiak, Senior Climate Finance Campaigner at Stand.earth, said:

“For over a decade, Citibank has been the largest and the most influential financier of Amazon oil and gas. The bank financed companies responsible for endangering uncontacted Indigenous Peoples, contaminating rivers, and driving oil expansion with rampant corruption. Citi’s new policy addresses some of these issues and is a welcomed next step. But with the Amazon heading for collapse, we need greater action commensurate with the problem. HSBC, another major Amazon oil and gas financier, has already shown how it can be done. Citibank must follow suit and urgently commit to ending oil and gas financing in the Amazon – for the sake of Indigenous Peoples, Earth, and humanity.”

Hannah Saggau, Senior Climate Finance Campaigner at Stand.earth, said:

“Despite new restrictions on Amazon oil and gas financing, Citi is still the world’s #2 fossil fuel financier. While our communities experience devastating climate chaos from fires, floods, hurricanes, and deadly heat, Citi is perpetuating environmental racism and Indigenous rights violations by funneling over $396 billion to the fossil fuel industry since 2016. The bank is reacting to our pressure with this positive step, but the pressure will continue until we see more significant reform of their fossil fuel financing.”

Angeline Robertson, Senior Researcher at Stand.earth Research Group and Lead Author of “Greenwashing the Amazon”, said: 

“Our recent report, ‘Greenwashing the Amazon’, showed how Citibank greenwashes their sustainability policies by ignoring that only 2% of the area of Amazonia, the most biodiverse place on the planet, is covered by their biodiversity exclusions. We will observe closely whether Citibank’s new Amazon exclusion for project-related financing for oil and gas expansion will truly impact the bank’s financial decisions in the coming months and years.” 

 

Exit Amazon Oil and Gas

Since Stand.earth launched the campaign Exit Amazon Oil and Gas, banks including Natixis, BNP Paribas, ING, and Credit Suisse have committed to ending their financing of trade in oil from ports in Ecuador and Peru, which covers much of the crude oil trade from Amazonia including the flow from the Colombian Amazon. In addition, BNP Paribas, Société Générale, Intesa Sanpaolo, HSBC, Standard Chartered, and most recently Barclays have also committed to various oil and gas exclusion policies across the Amazon, some also on a corporate level. 

Citibank’s move, although far from ideal, sends an important signal to other banks who hold the most influence in the region: JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, and Santander. These banks must acknowledge the risk posed to Amazonia and Indigenous Peoples by oil and gas extraction, the legacy of corruption, pollution, deforestation and violence caused by extractive industries, and the responsibility banks have to uphold their commitments to protecting biodiversity, safeguarding human rights, and fighting the climate crisis. 

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Notes to the editors:

Stand.earth and COICA recommend that banks adopt a geographic exclusion covering all transactions involving the oil and gas sector in the Amazon. This is a similar, but more comprehensive, approach to the Arctic exclusions adopted by banks in 2020 to protect the globally significant environmental and social values of that region. This is proposed as the only viable solution to avert a tipping point in the Amazon, which must remain at least 80% protected in order to avoid a tipping point, stop biodiversity loss, mitigate climate change, and uphold Indigenous Peoples’ and local communities’ rights.

Contacts
Europe: Martyna Dominiak, [email protected]
Americas: Lays Ushirobira, [email protected]
Cari Barcas, [email protected]
Bryan Ludeña, [email protected]

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Investors’ Support Remains Strong On Indigenous Rights Resolution at Citi, undisclosed at Wells Fargo

April 30, 2024

NEW YORK CITY – Today, 26% of Citi’s shareholders voted for a resolution on Indigenous rights filed by an order of New Jersey nuns, while the results of a similar resolution at Wells Fargo were not disclosed.

Questions about the banks’ climate, sustainability, and Indigenous Rights records dominated Citi’s meeting, and Wells Fargo faced similar questions. Shareholders asked about Citi’s support for LNG including marine gas, Amazon oil and gas, emissions from agriculture, and its recent move to quit the Equator Principles, a set of bare minimum social and environmental standards.

Citi refused to answer questions on the Indigenous resolution, despite stating there were several questions tabled by shareholders. CEO Jane Fraser gave scripted answers to questions and even stated the presenter of the Indigenous rights resolution, Tribal Chair Juan Mancias, referred to the Amazon rainforest, which he did not. When asked to meet with Mancias, Fraser refused.

The vote at Citi means the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace can refile the resolution next year, which has become a source of embarrassment for the bank and has seen Citi hastily release a report in recent weeks in an attempt to blunt investor support.

The last two years, the Citi resolution has attracted over 30% investor support. The Wells Fargo resolution was not filed last year because of a technical issue but attracted 26% support in 2022.

The resolutions come in the wake of new information filed at the SEC about the risks related to the banks’ financing deals and stark opposition by Indigenous communities. 

The resolutions cite Citi’s and Wells Fargo’s funding for Enbridge, which has built controversial pipelines such as the Dakota Access Pipeline and Lines 3 and 5. Citi is also being criticized as one of the biggest funders of oil and gas in the Amazon rainforest, where it funds Petroperú, PetroAmazonas and Frontera Energy, companies linked to oil spills and Indigenous rights violations.

The Citi resolution was presented by Juan Mancias, tribal chairman of the Carrizo Comecrudo Tribe of South Texas, which is opposing Enbridge’s plans to build the Rio Bravo pipeline. The pipeline is meant to feed into the Rio Grande LNG facility but has been delayed for years due to litigation, reiterating the financial risks involved in the project. Banks BNP and Société Générale have already withdrawn support for the project.

The Wells Fargo resolution was presented by Tara Houska, tribal attorney and founder of the Giniw Collective, which opposed Enbridge’s Line 3 tar sands pipeline in Minnesota. The project was embroiled in controversy given the legacy of the existing pipeline in the area which caused the biggest inland oil spill in the US and the financing of extensive law enforcement intervention by Enbridge. 

The AGMs were preceded by a week of protests across the world calling on Citi and Wells Fargo to step up their climate action and address its record of environmental racism and Indigenous Rights violations (click here for photos). Hundreds of Citi employees were prevented from entering the bank’s headquarters in the morning two days in a row. Today, parents and children gathered outside Citi headquarters in New York demanding the bank meet its climate commitments.

Last week, communities affected by polluting projects that Citi funds hosted a hearing in New York City titled The People vs. Citi: Confronting Citi Group’s Environmental Racism, calling on the bank to end its fossil fuel financing and invest in communities. This first-of-its kind hearing on Citi’s environmental racism was chaired by Roishetta Ozane, a Black leader and environmental activist from Sulphur, Louisiana, and founder of the Vessel Project along with environmental leaders from the Amazon, the Gulf South, and other communities. Petrochemical facilities and oil and gas refineries funded by Citigroup have polluted the air, land, and water in Roishetta’s community. 

Quotes

Sister Susan Francois of Sisters of St Joseph of Peace said:

“For three years in a row support from investors for our resolution has remained steady at Citi. This is a clear message to the bank that human rights violations are bad for business. Today’s vote allows us to resubmit the resolution and the Sisters of St Joseph of Peace will continue to voice concerns over present and future generations impacted by oil, gas and coal projects. We are guided by Pope Francis who has set out clearly the Church’s role in addressing projects in communities which result in a decline in their quality of life, the clearing of their land and the robbing of joy and hope for the future. We urge Citi to heed this call too.”

Juan Mancias tribal chairman of the Carrizo Comecrudo Tribe of Texas, who presented the Indigenous rights resolution at Citi said:

“Citi has provided Enbridge with over $5 billion in financing enabling the Rio Bravo pipeline which Enbridge is trying to build on Carrizo Comecrudo land. Citi clients like Enbridge will destroy acres of wetlands and the habitats of threatened and endangered plant and animal species. These projects affect us as a tribe. Société Générale and BNP Paribas have withdrawn funding from the Rio Bravo project because they see this risk in financing indigenous rights violations. We urge the city to stop investing in companies that steal Indigenous land and exploit our environment.”

Tara Houska tribal attorney and founder of Giniw Collective said: 

“Human beings are now in the era of ‘climate boiling’. Globally, Indigenous peoples are defending what remains of earth’s biodiversity and drinkable water with our bodies, our freedom, sometimes our lives. We have cost Wells Fargo clients billions in lost profits. Clients like Enbridge, mired in lawsuits, environmental degradation, and reputational disaster. We are not going to stop — we are standing up for our children, for all children. Wells Fargo can make history. A first step would be telling its shareholders the truth of violations of human rights by its clients.”

Hannah Saggau, Senior Climate Finance Campaigner at Stand.earth said:

“Citi’s shareholders continue to send a clear message that the bank needs to do more on climate action and justice for frontline and Indigenous communities. Given the level of support for the Indigenous Peoples rights’ resolution, we expect Citi to step up and end financing for projects harming Indigenous communities at home and abroad.” 

Mary Mijares Fossil Finance Campaigner at Amazon Watch said:

“Indigenous peoples face continuous threats for standing against the destruction of their ancestral lands in the Amazon rainforest, yet Citi supports companies like Petroperú, known for severe oil contamination and undermining rights. A substantial number of Citi investors see this as a material risk and have requested the bank to disclose more information about it. When will Citi commit to more robust and effective Indigenous rights safeguards that truly respect free, prior, and informed consent, and prohibit financing for controversial clients such as Petroperú?”

Press Contacts:

Judith Crosbie, Sunrise Project, [email protected]

Emily Pomilio, Stand.earth, [email protected]

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Investor nuns reject Citi Indigenous report as ‘wholly unresponsive’ in SEC filing

April 10, 2024

Investor nuns from New Jersey are warning Citi shareholders in a filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission that a new report by the bank on Indigenous issues does not meet the demands of their resolution which is due to go before shareholders in a vote.

Citi refused to agree to the nuns’ demands for a disclosure on the effectiveness of its Indigenous rights policies in relation to its funding of projects and companies. Instead the bank published a report, without consulting Indigenous communities, that is “wholly unresponsive” and reveals that “Citi continues to finance clients and projects with track records of egregious violations of Indigenous rights and expose the company to significant risk”, the nuns’ exempt solicitation to the SEC states.

The public row between the global bank and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace is a warning to other US banks, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs, which also face Indigenous rights and environmental justice resolutions at this year’s annual shareholders meetings. In contrast, Indigenous investors at Royal Bank of Canada withdrew a resolution at the bank following an agreement on progress.

Three years on, Citi is scrambling to blunt investor support for the nuns’ resolution which in 2022 and 2023 attracted over 30% of shareholder vote and has become a source of embarrassment for the bank.

The Citi report on Indigenous issues admits that despite flagging 16 clients over risks to Indigenous rights, none have been refused funding or services by the bank. Out of the 37 projects which the bank identified as posing a risk to Indigenous rights, Citi refused funding for just seven.

Indigenous groups have also rejected Citi’s Indigenous report. An alliance of seven Indigenous nations from the Peruvian Amazon, impacted by oil spills and rights violations by Citi client Petroperú, have denounced Citi’s report saying they have “serious concerns” about it. Citi has refused to meet the groups when they travel from Perú to New York in two weeks.

Indigenous groups affected by Citi’s $5.8 billion funding of controversial pipeline company Enbridge are also angry at the publication of the report. This includes communities which are fighting Line 3 and Line 5 construction in Minnesota and the Rio Bravo LNG pipeline in south Texas.

The nuns’ resolution will be voted on by shareholders at the annual shareholders meeting on April 30. In contrast, Citi in recent weeks agreed with the New York City Comptroller’s demands to disclose information on ratios of energy funding and with another investor on information on its clients transition plans. Both resolutions were withdrawn.

Quotes

Sister Susan Francois of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace, said:

“More than 30% of shareholders supported our proposal last year and the year before, asking Citi to report concrete performance indicators on how they are respecting Indigenous People’s rights in existing and proposed general corporate and project financing.   This report is very light on this critical information and does not provide shareholders with confidence that Indigenous rights are being protected. In fact, new projects are being developed now with funding from Citi that place these rights and Citi’s reputation at risk. We look forward to presenting our proposal to shareholders again and encourage Citi to respond with more robust reporting to shareholders.”

Olivia Bisa, President of the Autonomous Territorial Government of the Chapra Nation in Peru:

“Citi talks about respecting the Free, Prior and Informed Consent of Indigenous communities as set down by the UN, but it has clients like Petroperú which refuse to recognize the right to say no of seven Indigenous nations in the Peruvian Amazon. Petroperu’s disregard for Indigenous rights should mean something to the banks that lend them money; but in reality their mutual business continues. If they are serious about Indigenous rights, Citi must hold its clients accountable for ensuring that their due diligence adheres to international standards of Free, Prior and Informed Consent.” 

Tara Houska (Anishinaabe), founder of Indigenous women’s and two spirit led environmental protection group, Giniw Collective, which has opposed the Enbridge pipelines in Minnesota, said:

“Clearly Citi feels the pressure of Indigenous peoples’ voices finally being heard, yet they continue to avoid truth. Free, Prior and Informed Consent of Indigenous communities does not mean consultation, it means consent. Many of Citi’s clients lack our consent, costing them billions in delays, legal fights, and reputational damage. In response to hard-won protections in project-level finance for our people and ecosystems, industry largely shifted to corporate lending to maintain the status quo. Citi’s clients are obscuring the truth from Citi, as Citi is now obscuring the truth from its shareholders: Indigenous peoples pay the direct price of violence on our communities and lands, we all pay as a species reliant on a habitable planet. We deserve better.”

Juan Mancias, Chair of the Carrizo Comecrudo Tribe of Texas, whose ancestral land will be impacted by the Rio Bravo gas pipeline which Enbridge wants to build, said:

“The title of this report is ‘Respecting the Rights of Indigenous Peoples’ but respect is a learned value, it’s not a corporate ideal. Citi can’t decide on its own who to respect because they don’t have the standards in place to do that. You can say ‘respect’ but it’s really about action. Citi’s funding of Enbridge shows it is not interested in taking the action needed to show respect.”

Gisela Hurtado, Advocacy Manager and Peruvian Attorney, Amazon Watch:  

“The Indigenous Peoples of the Peruvian Amazon, represented by organizations such as FENAP, GTANW, and GTANCH, strongly condemn Citi’s recent report, ‘Respecting the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,’ for failing to adhere to international standards regarding Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) and the right to self-determination. While the report acknowledges Citi’s commitment to Indigenous collective rights, it falls short by neglecting clear Interamerican standards on Indigenous rights and self-determination”. 

Courtney Wicks Executive Director of Investor Advocates for Social Justice, which supports the Sisters of St Joseph of Peace on their shareholder filings said:

“Citi’s history of perpetuating racism and human rights violations as a result of the bank’s policies and practices has repeatedly undermined its reputation and exposed the bank to material risk. It is unclear why the company would continue to engage in such bad faith with investors and fail to consult impacted stakeholders before publishing such an egregiously inadequate report. This, coupled with the bank’s withdrawal from the Equator Principles, indicates that Citi no longer cares about its reputation or the harm its business commits against BIPOC and other marginalized peoples, or the planet itself.”

Hannah Saggau, Senior Climate Finance Campaigner, Stand.earth:

“If Citi is so eager to get investors and communities off its back then it needs to go beyond a report like this. We want to see actual policy changes where the bank agrees to end funding of egregious projects and companies which harm Indigenous communities from the Amazon rainforest to North America and places us further away from dealing with catastrophic climate chaos.”

Ryan Brightwell, campaign lead, banks and human rights, said:

“This flimsy paper tells us nothing about how effective Citi’s policies have been in protecting Indigenous Rights. It’s as if they haven’t understood the question. We know the bank has a track record of funding damaging extractive projects and companies, from the Cerrejon coal mine to DAPL and Line 3. But rather than dwelling on how this has been allowed to happen and what needs to improve, the bank has simply rehashed its policies and published a few numbers of transactions approved and declined.

“It’s not enough to tell shareholders there were 7 deals last year that were sufficiently outside the pale for the bank to say “no”, and this won’t reassure shareholders that the bank is managing risks effectively. Shareholders should call the bank’s bluff and insist the bank really examines its failings and improves.”

Background Info

Citi published a climate report two weeks ago which showed 71% of the oil, gas and coal companies it funds do not have sufficient climate plans to transition away from fossil fuels and address their massive emissions. Last month the bank exited the Equator Principles, which set minimum standards on risks to the environment and local communities in countries where they finance oil, gas, coal, infrastructure and mining projects. The day before its proxy book was released, Citi capitulated to New York City’s Comptroller and agreed to issue a report on the bank’s ratio of financing dirty fossil fuels vs low-carbon energy. NYC withdrew its resolution. 

Citi is the second biggest funder of fossil fuels in the world, pumping in $322 billion between  2016-2022 according to the annual Banking on Climate Chaos report. Citi is one of the biggest funders of oil and gas in the Amazon and is the biggest foreign funder of fossil fuel expansion in Africa.

Press Contact:

Judith Crosbie, Sunrise Project, [email protected]

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Big 4 US banks abandon standards to protect environment & communities

March 5, 2024

Four of the biggest banks in the world have left the Equator Principles, which set minimum standards on risks to the environment and local communities in countries where they finance oil, gas, coal, infrastructure and mining projects. 

Citi, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo are listed as having left the group of banks which has signed the principles, which still includes global banks such as Barclays, HSBC, Deutsche Bank and Royal Bank of Canada. Citi has boasted in previous reports that it is a “founding signatory” to the Equator Principles and that it has applied them to various projects it has funded to assess and monitor the risk involved. This includes a massive LNG project in Texas, Cheniere’s $8 billion Corpus Christi expansion project, which is opposed by local communities over its health and environmental impacts.

The move is part of a concerning trend among banks headquartered in the US to backpedal on commitments on climate and to vulnerable communities affected by their financing deals. 

Bank of America has removed explicit bans on financing coal and Arctic drilling projects. JPMorgan Chase has introduced an “energy mix” for calculating its financed emissions, which will include renewable energy and make it harder to assess and recently left the voluntary CA100+ initiative. Citi’s chief executive, Jane Fraser, has also signalled a shift in priority.

Ironically, US banks sent large delegations to the recent climate talks at COP 28 in Dubai: Citi sent 26 staff and Bank of America sent 18, including chief executive Brian Moynihan. 

The four US banks are the biggest funders of oil, gas and coal in the world, pumping in $1.4 trillion between 2016-2022. 

Other global banks have continued to make policy changes to address climate and community risks. Barclays last month announced an end to funding for new oil and gas projects; HSBC in 2022 said it was ending funding for new fossil fuel projects. Most recently Danske Bank announced they would severely limit investments in fossil fuels via their asset management division after last year saying it would stop financing oil and gas projects and companies.

Richard Brooks, Climate Finance Director, Stand.earth:

“It is a very troubling move by some of the biggest fossil fuel financing banks in the world to abandon a bare minimum set of standards that banks themselves have set. It is both ethically shocking and financially irresponsible. It is becoming increasingly apparent these banks do not care about anything other than the bottom line.”

Johan Frijns, director, BankTrack:

“The sudden, quiet and coordinated departure of four major US banks from the Equator Principles is an alarming signal that they are not even prepared to adhere to these inadequate global minimum standards. The Equator Principles need fundamental reform, but quitting them in fear of political backlash will further undermine the rights and interests of communities whose rights and environment are so often damaged by the projects banks finance. We demand that such minimum safeguards continue to be respected by the banks now walking away from the initiative.”

Mary Mijares, Fossil Finance Campaigner, Amazon Watch:

“The exit of the largest US banks from the Equator Principles will only further reinforce their disregard for rights and the climate at large. The principles, which serve as a foundational commitment to safeguarding rights and the climate, are crucial. At a time when more commitments are needed from financial institutions, banks must not backslide for the sake of our collective future.”

Adele Shraiman, Fossil-Free Finance campaign senior strategist, Sierra Club:

“This is yet another display of cowardice that shows how Wall Street is bending to pressure from climate denier extremists rather than upholding some of their most basic climate and human rights commitments. While the fossil fuel industry and their political henchmen are pushing financial institutions to not even do the bare minimum, banks should know that they cannot continue to ignore the very real climate risks that their customers, shareholders, and regulators are increasingly alarmed about.”

Aditi Sen, Climate and Energy Director, Rainforest Action Network:

“The equator principles set out the absolute minimum set of standards and safeguards for financial institutions to address environmental and social risks in the projects they finance. The silent retreat from major US banks which are among the biggest financiers of fossil fuels globally from this initiative is deeply concerning. It further undermines the rights of frontline and fenceline communities across the world who bear the brunt of impacts from toxic projects.” 

Press Contact:

Judith Crosbie, The Sunrise Project

+1 929 584 3344
[email protected]

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Bank of America removes bans on coal and Arctic drilling

February 3, 2024

Bank of America has dramatically backpedalled on climate commitments and removed explicit bans on financing coal mines and Arctic drilling.

The move is being slammed by climate groups as an affront to the recent global agreement by governments at COP to transition away from oil, gas and coal and is part of a concerning trend among banks headquartered in the US to weaken their stance on climate.

Bank of America’s updated Environmental and Social Risk Policy removes language from a previous policy that it will “not directly finance” oil exploration and extraction in the Arctic, thermal coal mines or new coal-fired plants. Instead these activities will now go though “enhanced due diligence”.

The Bank of America policy change follows a November announcement by JPMorgan Chase of an “energy mix” for calculating its financed emissions, which will include renewable energy and make it harder to assess. Citi’s chief executive Jane Fraser has also signalled a shift in priority.

US banks sent large delegations to the recent climate talks at COP 28 in Dubai: Citi sent 26 staff and Bank of America sent 18, including chief executive Brian Moynihan.

The top global banks have pumped $5.5 trillion into oil, gas and coal expansion since 2016. Bank of America is the fourth largest funder at $280 billion, and is a major financier of fossil fuel expansion in the Amazon and of the LNG build-out. JP Morgan Chase is the biggest funder at $434 billion and Citi is number two at $333 billion.

Other global banks have made major policy changes in line with climate action: HSBC in 2022 announced it was ending funding for new fossil fuel projects while Danske Bank last year said it would stop financing oil and gas projects and companies.

Hannah Saggau, Stand.Earth

“The ink is barely dry on the global agreement at COP28 to transition away from coal, oil and gas and now Bank of America has decided to significantly weaken their restrictions on financing the most egregious fossil fuel projects: in the pristine Arctic and dirty coal. Bank of America’s backpedalling on its climate commitments proves that its loyalties lie with the fossil fuel industry, not the communities they purport to serve. The bank must explain to investors, shareholders, customers and employees why it has chosen to snub the global consensus on climate action.”

Aditi Sen, Rainforest Action Network

“Wall Street banks are rolling back fossil fuel finance policies against the tide of history at a time of intensifying climate chaos. Bank of America, in addition to being one of the world’s worst financiers of fossil fuels, recently updated their Environmental and Social Risk Policy Framework to open a lane for fossil finance previously (and rightly) ruled out, including around Arctic drilling, new coal-fired power plants and thermal coal mines. JPMorgan Chase, long the single largest financier of fossil fuels and fossil expansion, and the only Wall Street bank to finance the recent Rio Grande LNG project, rolled out an energy mix target that buries their fossil fuel financing from public scrutiny.”

Lucie Pinson, director of Reclaim Finance

“Bank of America’s backtrack may seem inconsequential at first glance, given its limited involvement in directly financing new fossil fuel projects. However, the audacity lies in its blatant endorsement of clients like Glencore and Sasol, corporations that actively contribute to climate chaos and inequalities by persistently developing new coal plants. This move is nothing short of scandalous, as it directly contradicts the global efforts to limit global warming to the 1.5°C target outlined in climate agreements. By embracing entities that undermine environmental sustainability, the bank appears to be in clear opposition to its own net-zero pledge, casting doubt on its commitment as a member of the Net-Zero Banking Alliance (NZBA). This raises serious concerns about the bank’s priorities and values, signaling a disconcerting willingness to act counter to its stated environmental goals”

Press Contact:

Judith Crosbie, The Sunrise Project

+1 929 584 3344
[email protected]

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Citi involvement in Exxon-Pioneer merger is ‘pure hypocrisy’, say climate groups

Press Contact: Judith Crosbie, [email protected], +1 929 584 3344

Citi is lead financial advisor for Exxon in the $59.5 billion deal which will see Exxon double down on oil production by buying Pioneer Natural Resources, a shale oil production company in the US Permian basin. Exxon is Citi’s biggest fossil fuel client, with the bank pumping in over $15 billion to Exxon since 2016.

At the same time, Citi has verbally committed to net zero by 2050 and even co-founded the global body the Net Zero Banking Alliance. The bank however has faced criticism from investors over a lack of a credible transition plan and the impact of its fossil fuel funding on Indigenous communities. In August it was among 10 banks cited in a United Nations complaint over human rights abuses linked to funding for Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest oil producer.

Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Petrie Partners and Bank of America Securities acted as financial advisors to Pioneer in today’s merger.

Roishetta Ozane, Gulf fossil finance coordinator for the Texas Campaign for the Environment:

“Today we see the true side of Citi as a fossil fuel funder not a climate leader. Citi is a bank that likes to talk about helping communities and solving climate change. But this deal will mean even more oil production where my children and I live and even more health problems for families in the Gulf South. Citi has backed this deal and is yet again funding environmentally racist policies,” she said.

Hannah Saggau, Stand.earth Senior Climate Finance Campaigner:

“This is a massive deal risking more oil production and pollution – and Citi is right in the middle of it. Citibank is failing everyone: its share price has tanked for years, its staff are disillusioned through arbitrary layoffs, and it is still under investigation for compliance. Meanwhile, Citi continues to bankroll fossil fuels while publicly touting climate commitments. Actions speak louder than words, and today we got a megaphone message: Citi is doubling down on fossil fuels at the expense of our health and safety.”

Ben Cushing Campaign Director of the Sierra Club’s Fossil-Free Finance campaign:

“It is pure hypocrisy to say you want to reduce emissions from oil and gas and then act as financial adviser to Exxon to grow its oil and gas business. The left hand is doing one thing while the right is doing the opposite. Citi is clearly not taking its climate targets very seriously,” he said.

Shawna Ambrose, Rainforest Action Network Spokesperson:

“This is why it’s important to follow the money instead of greenwashed pledges. Bank of America talks about climate transition, but today it’s revealed they’re in the thick of one of the biggest oil production in years. Bank of America is profiting off of climate chaos, and must be held accountable for torching the planet as much as Exxon.”

Alice Hu of New York Communities for Change:

“Last month protesters shut down Citi’s headquarters in New York because we are tired of greenwashing from this megabank. Today Citi proved they would rather help Exxon keep profiting off fossil fuels rather than stand with communities in New York and elsewhere suffering from the ravages of climate change. Our message to Citi is that we will escalate our fight in defence of our communities and the planet.”

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Press Contact: Judith Crosbie, [email protected], +1 929 584 3344

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Tell Costco To Clean Up Its Credit Card

Sponsored by: The Fossil Free Citi Coalition

Call on Costco to drop dirty bank Citi as its credit card partner because of Citi’s role in funding catastrophic climate change.

Did you know?

Costco’s credit cards are issued by Citi – one of the dirtiest banks on the planet. Citi pumps billions into building new oil, gas, and coal projects that are creating toxic air pollution and worsening deadly fires, floods, hurricanes, and extreme heat. Since 2016, Citi has provided more than $332 billion in financing polluting fossil fuel companies, threatening our homes, our jobs and our lives. Costco is a big, popular company — more than 30% of Americans are Costco shoppers (and who doesn’t love the free samples!). Its motto is “do the right thing”, and it’s already made several climate commitments. Costco can continue to solidify its lovable brand by dropping its toxic partnership with Citi.

What Costco must do

Costco, as a huge client of Citi, can contribute to climate solutions by telling Citi if it doesn’t stop funding fossil fuels, then Costco will drop the bank as its credit card issuer. Costco should not let Citi undermine its own climate actions or harm Costco members, workers, or communities who are being devastated by climate impacts.

What you can do

Sign this petition to tell Costco that it needs to drop Citi as its credit card issuer if Citi doesn’t clean up its act.

Costco has a history of listening to its paying members and caring about its public reputation. So, let’s make sure Costco hears from members and non-members alike! By signing this petition, you will be taking a stand for a healthier future for your family, your friends and your community.

Learn more in our blog post here that includes FAQs about Why Costco, What you can do with your Costco-Citi Anywhere Visa Card, and more about this campaign.

 

Add your name to the petition to Costco’s CEO to say: Drop Citi!

Take Action Now!
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Climate groups slam banks over senior PR hirings to deal with bad climate record

11 September, 2023

Climate groups have criticised banks for hiring senior staff to deal with their poor image on climate change – instead of actually dealing with climate change. 

As reported in the Guardian today, Citi, Barclays and Royal Bank of Canada, which are among the biggest funders of the oil, gas and coal sectors, are hiring senior public relations and “engagement” roles while continuing to pump money into new and expanding fossil fuel industries.

The move comes as protesters, angry at financial institutions for bank-rolling the fossil fuel industry, prepare a wave of actions in New York in the coming days as UN Climate Week kicks off, including at Citi, KKR and Blackrock. The 60 biggest banks in the world have pumped $5.5 trillion into the fossil fuel sectors since 2016.

Citi is hiring a Vice President for ESG stakeholder engagement; Barclays is hiring a climate communications director and RBC is hiring a head of climate transition.

Climate groups have called out the banks over greenwashing.

Richard Brooks Climate Finance Director at Stand.Earth said

“Major banks hiring senior staff as spin doctors to green their bad images on climate issues rather than actually tackling their fossil fuel financing is utterly sickening, given the deaths in Hawaii, fires in Canada’s Arctic and extreme heat all over North America. This is tone deaf desperation by Citi, RBC and Barclays. This is part of a trend whereby major banks that fund the oil, gas and coal industries are doubling down on delay and deception, attempting to squash demands of shareholders, customers, and the public alike. Our pressure is only going to escalate, so we would urge them to take real action immediately.”

Joanna Warrington at Fossil Free London said

“In recent years we’ve seen campaigning pressure expand beyond the oil giants like Shell and Equinor, onto banks and the massive funding they provide to companies building new oil and gas projects that would be impossible without it. Barclays is clearly scared. This new PR role is just another way for it to armour itself up. But underneath, the bank is still filled to the brim with oil. The only meaningful climate action Barclays should take is to stop funding fossil fuel expansion, like leaders in Europe, and fund green energy now. No more spin doctors.”

All three banks have battled the public fallout recently over their roles in fuelling the climate crisis.

  • Citi is the second biggest fossil fuel funder in the world since 2016, pumping over $332 billion into the sector. Just two weeks ago Citi was named in a UN human rights complaint over its funding of the world’s biggest oil producer Saudi Aramco. Citi has faced years of backlash by investors over its Indigenous rights record and climate protests. The vice president role Citi is hiring for will be “related to sustainability issues, with a focus on human rights” and will “monitor Citi’s reputation”.
  • In 2022, RBC was the biggest global bank funder of fossil fuels and continues in 2023, to take a greater proportion of the global financing of fossil fuels by banks.. RBC’s new senior position will produce “lasting responses to Climate Activism” and follows pressure at this year’s annual general meeting over its fossil fuel funding. 
  • Barclays, the biggest fossil fuel funder in Europe, has faced pressure over its Wimbledon sponsorship, its connections to the UK’s National Trust and was even forced to deal with the fallout when a British pensioner refused to pay their council tax because of a link to the bank.

Information about each bank’s fossil fuel funding and the league table on banks funding of oil, gas and coal can be found in the Banking on Climate Chaos report.

Press Contact:Judith Crosbie, [email protected], +1 929 584 3344

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Case Study: Citibank Funds Oil Expansion in Amazonia

In 2017, Citibank was the sole underwriter on $615.3 million USD in bonds issued by Petroamazonas (now PetroEcuador) to repay debts to vendors and service suppliers especially Schlumberger – the oil company owed over $850 million USD for oil drilling in the Shushufindi and Auca blocks in the Ecuadorian Amazon between 2015 and 2017. Citibank’s involvement in the deal also lent much-needed credibility to the state-run oil company, which went on to start a massive drilling campaign with Schlumberger in the ITT Block in Yasuni National Park.

In 2020 Citibank, along with Itaú Unibanco, provided GeoPark with a bridge loan to secure GeoPark’s acquisition of Amerisur — a small Colombian oil producer with a history of polluting Indigenous territory in the Amazon. Citibank and Itaú Unibanco then acted as book-runners for a $350 million USD bond issuance for GeoPark that raised the capital to pay for the purchase. The Amerisur acquisition brought GeoPark into the Colombian Amazon and with it all of Amerisur’s dirty legacy in the Putumayo, including the Platanillo block where Indigenous Siona peoples allege that Amerisur polluted their waterways and compromised their health and livelihoods. GeoPark saw the acquisition as an opportunity to use the Platanillo block, the most commercially viable block in Amerisur’s operations, as a “steady cash flow base” while expanding oil production in other “highly prospective exploration licenses” i.e. expanding oil production to other blocks that overlapped Indigenous territory in the Putumayo (e.g. PUT-8, PUT-9, and PUT-12) where GeoPark had capital commitments in 2021.

5 teal charts with white numbers in the upper middle and name of five banks below each of the five charts

In 2022, Citibank took a leading role in bond issuances made by Eneva SA, including raising capital for the construction of TPP Azulão, a 295-megawatt natural gas-fired thermoelectric plant in the state of Amazonas. The plant has faced opposition from Brazilian environmental groups who point out that the plant was rushed through environmental permitting with no time for proper impact assessment for a project that threatens local air and water quality and will contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions. The plant will generate electricity from the Azulão gas fields, which started production in 2021 and will expand to meet the growing demand.

Citibank has played a deciding factor in supplying the financing and credibility for oil expansion in Ecuador, Colombia, and Brazil.

In each case, Citibank has played a deciding factor in supplying the financing and credibility for oil expansion in Ecuador, Colombia, and Brazil. For a bank that wants to “drive the transition to a net zero economy and make good on the promise of the Paris agreement,” as CEO Jane Fraser was recently quoted as saying, Citibank is not putting its money where its mouth is. Citibank should immediately stop financing the expansion of oil and gas in Amazonia instead of continuing to do business on a path that will certainly break the promise of staying under 1.5C envisioned by the Paris Agreement.

This is a re-publication of a case study on Citibank from the 2023 Capitalizing on Collapse report. Read the original case study published at Stand.earth here.

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Urge Citi to stop financing Amazon destruction

Sponsored by: Stand.earth

Citi executives must stop destroying Amazonia and warming our planet

Out of 160 banks, Citibank is the second highest financier of Amazon oil and gas projects – with over $1.8 billion USD worth of financing.

This fossil fuel bank has been steadily creating climate chaos all while publicly agreeing to climate commitments. Amazonia has already been forced to a tipping point due to forest destruction caused by industrial activities. The Indigenous Peoples of Amazonia are calling for an urgent protection of 80% of the region by 2025. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has already warned that there can be no new fossil fuel projects if the world is to stay within the 1.5°C limit on global warming.

We are calling on Citi to fully exit financing for Amazon oil and gas. As we enter a new era of climate chaos, it is imperative that banks stop financing oil and gas in Amazonia.

Add your name today to urge Citi to stop financing the destruction of Amazonia and the planet.

Note: Check out Stand.earth and Stand Research Group’s recent report, “Capitalizing on Collapse” to see which banks are responsible for the $20 billion USD financing of Amazon oil and gas over the past 15 years.

Add your name and tell Citi to stop financing Amazon destruction

Sign the petition!
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