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Fridays for Future: Standard Chartered Must Stop 'Fueling the Climate Crisis'

VICE UK is publishing this open letter from the youth climate strikers calling on the bank to stop funding the coal industry.
February 18, 2021, 9:45am
Fridays for Future av
Photo: courtesy of Fridays for Future

VICE UK is publishing this open letter from Fridays for Future, a global network of youth climate campaigners, as part of its climate crisis series Save Yourselves.

To: Bill Winters, CEO Standard Chartered Bank,

We, Fridays for Future activists around the world, are writing this from a very different environment to your central London office desk, one where we are impacted by every action your pen commands.

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We’ve witnessed our home being destroyed by mining projects funded by your bank’s money. This is something you may never experience in your office, from where you take actions "for good" (as your official slogan claims), but are you – and Standard Chartered – really "here" for that? Standard Chartered is still one of the world's largest coal-financing banks, fuelling the climate crisis.

Mr. Winters, we’ve seen your statement in which you contemplate “an opportunity to take some bold decisions that would be a turning point for our planet”. You applauded yourself for ceasing project-bound loans to new coal mines and plants, but this only makes up a tiny percentage of your coal finance – the vast majority of Standard Chartered’s coal financing takes place through company-level funding. This is nothing more than a greenwashing trick risking our future.

Standard Chartered claims to support the Paris Agreement, yet has funnelled over $24 billion into fossil fuel companies since the agreement was signed. Other banks have set clear deadlines for phasing out coal completely. But Standard Chartered’s current policy projects money flowing to major coal companies until long after 2030. By then, we'll need to have slashed 78 percent of the existing global coal plant fleet to stay below 1.5C of warming, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

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The extractivist projects of the companies Standard Chartered finances are harming countries most impacted by the climate crisis. In Indonesia, for example, Standard Chartered funded Adaro Energy – a company police have said they may investigate in relation the biggest floods in the past 50 years in the Indonesian province of South Kalimantan.

Standard Chartered has also financed San Miguel Corporation, which was accused of displacing over 3,000 farmers for a coal plant in Sariaya, Quezon, in the Philippines. This plant pumps a blanket of ash out onto homes and families - bringing darkness and air pollution. It seems you would not finance such injustice in the UK, so why abroad?

We write to you as a global movement. We are standing against your business until you take the necessary measures. You might not see stories of climate devastation in the UK yet, but for us these are daily news. Standard Chartered's coal policy is coming up for renewal. You have the chance to do it right, walk the talk and improve your commitments to align with the Paris Agreement. 

What might just be investments for your bank make our lives a living hell. No other bank puts more money into coal companies in the Philippines than Standard Chartered. Stop funding our destruction!

Mr. Winters, as a starting point, stop all types of financing to any company building new coal assets in 2021. To have even the slightest chance of staying below a temperature rise of 1.5°C, we need a complete phase out of all financing activities for companies with oil and gas expansion plans, or those active in unconventional oil and gas (fracking, Arctic drilling, tar sands, ultra-deep-water drilling).

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“Here for good” does not mean helping to increase greenhouse gases, it means fighting the climate crisis. “Here for good” means defunding fossil fuels, and it means financing the energy transition. "Here for good" means being here for the people, especially the most marginalised.

Will you do this, Standard Chartered? Will you live up to your slogan or will you let us down, once again? What you've done so far is not good enough! We expect more.

We are asking everyone to help #CleanUpStandardChartered. Standard Chartered, it's time to #RaiseYourStandards. For more information on the campaign, check fridaysforfuture.org/CleanUpStandardChartered

Salsabila Khairunisa, Jeda untuk Iklim, Indonesia;

Vanessa Nakate,  Fridays for Future Uganda;

Mitzi Jonelle Tan, Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines;

Leonie Bremer, Fridays for Future Germany;

Laura Veronica Muñoz, Viernes por el Futuro Colombia;

Nicki Becker, Jóvenes por el Clima Argentina;

Ayisha Siddiqa, Polluters Out, U.S.A;

Sofía Gutiérrez, Viernes por el Futuro Colombia;

Dominique Palmer, England, U.K.;

Hilda Nakabuye, Fridays for Future Uganda;

Hyally Carvalho, Engajamundo, Brazil;

Fatemah Sultan, Fridays For Future Pakistan

Standard Chartered told VICE UK in a statement: “We made a firm commitment in 2018 not to fund new coal mines or coal-fired power plants and followed up in 2019 with a plan to support clients in drastically reducing their percentage of revenue from coal. We have also committed to reducing the full range of financed emissions in line with the Paris Agreement and have been highly transparent about our thinking and progress. We continue to review our positions and methodologies in light of stakeholder feedback and intend to remain leaders in articulating a path to net zero by 2050, alongside our commitments to funding green infrastructure and renewable energy.”