PH groups want end to StanChart’s ‘deadly game’ of fossil fuel financing

Clean energy and climate and environmental justice advocates under the banner of Power for People Coalition (P4P) and Protect VIP on Friday trooped to the Makati office of Standard Chartered Bank (StanChart) to demand that it stop financing the fossil fuel industry in alignment to global climate ambitions and in genuine support of sustainable development in countries like the Philippines.

Clad in costumes themed after Squid Game, the hit drama series praised for its compelling critique of social inequality exacerbated by money, protesters urged the European bank, which boasts of an investment portfolio primarily looking towards Asia, to end its deadly game of financing fossil fuels.

“We think it a fitting illustration of how Standard Chartered uses its financial resources to toy with the plight of climate-vulnerable peoples in developing countries like the Philippines. StanChart seems to think its funding of coal, gas, and other fossil fuels is a grand prize of sorts that will assist us in our development, but in reality will keep our people’s pockets empty and lives in danger with high electricity rates, toxic pollution, and a raging climate crisis,” said Gerry Arances, Convenor of P4P.

The protest is held as part of the #DefundClimateChaos Day of Action, in which communities and advocates in 26 countries across every continent join together in protest of banks keeping the money pipeline to fossil fuels open, held days before the start of the COP 26 climate talk in Glasgow. As a UK-based bank estimated to have channeled US $10 billion worth of financing to the coal industry alone between October 2018 to 2020, StanChart is among the banks in international groups’ list of top climate chaos culprits.

“COP 26 is where critical negotiations in raising global climate ambitions ought to and will take place, and eyes are inevitably on UK banks like StanChart to raise the bar in climate action among financial institutions. We need to see them do that, or else it’s Filipinos and other developing communities, especially in the Global South, who will pay the price,” Arances said.

A day before the action, the Bank announced new interim targets for achieving net-zero by 2050, which groups say contain welcome moves, but still cast doubt on the sufficiency of the bank’s climate leadership.

“In the Philippines, we know StanChart is among banks to thank for the coal boom we saw in the last decade, with billions worth of funding it pours onto coal developing companies like San Miguel Corporation and Aboitiz. It’s good to hear them talk of cutting ties with coal expansionist clients and exercising due diligence for client groups. But the Bank remains keen on supporting companies profiting off coal well beyond 2030, and even thinks that gas is a good idea. With these, StanChart is still a climate chaos frontman,” Arances added.

The environmental and energy advocacy groups lament that even as the country makes painfully slow progress in challenging the dominion of coal in the power mix, another destructive fuel in the form of fossil gas is on the rise thanks to proponents and financiers. Stanchart is among banks found to have financial links to a 1,700 MW fossil gas project that is, among other projects in the province of Batangas, threatening a globally significant biodiversity hotspot.

“The Verde Island Passage (VIP) houses thousands of species and feeds millions of Filipinos. Now, this ‘center of the center’ of marine shorefish biodiversity also finds itself at the center of ecological catastrophe with a concentration of gas projects in its vicinity. By funding gas, StanChart places in peril the environment, people, and climate. This is a losing situation for us in a game we should not even need to play with the abundant clean energy resources in our country and the rest of the world waiting to be harnessed,” said Fr. Edwin Gariguez, convenor of Protect VIP.