SA banks blasted as 'climate killers'

2011-11-30 22:40

Durban - Two South African banks are the biggest "climate killers" among African banks, environmental activists said on Wednesday.

Standard Bank was the biggest culprit, while Nedbank, which claimed to be a carbon neutral bank, was ranked number 60, activists said on the sidelines of the 17th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 17) in Durban.

The two banks were mentioned during the release of a report showing that banks around the world had lent about R2.5 trillion to the coal industry, which is regarded as the major source of greenhouse gases.

In response, Nedbank said it was a proud conservation partner of the World Wide Fund for Nature South Africa (WWF-SA)

"Together we aspire to reduce the consumption of our natural resources. Nedbank is also the first African bank to adopt the Equator Principles," the bank said in a statement.

The Equator Principles are a voluntary set of standards for determining, assessing and managing social and environmental risk in project financing.

Comment from Standard Bank could not be immediately obtained.

Bobby Peek, of Groundwork, said Standard Bank had financed projects worth about R1bn "that destroyed the environment".

Nedbank had financed Eskom's environmentally unfriendly coal projects to the tune of about R941m.

"Since 2005, the year the Kyoto Protocol came into force, Standard Bank has provided over €447m [about R4.89bn] to the coal industry, the single largest source of CO² [carbon dioxide] emissions heating up our planet," he said.

The Kyoto Protocol, which came into effect on February 16 2005, is an international agreement which sets binding targets for 37 industrialised countries and the European community on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Peek said that although Nedbank claimed to be a carbon neutral bank, there was nothing to show it was environmentally friendly.

Disastrous consequences

The news about the bank's financing of coal projects came at a time when it has put banners around its building which read "a greener future needs a greener bank with green answers".

The building is next to the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Convention Centre where the COP 17 talks are taking place.

Peek said many public debates in South Africa during the "aggressive coal energy development" of the past few years had focused on the devastation coal extraction had caused.

"Presently, Johannesburg is 'floating' above a lake of acidic waste water which is an accumulation of years of gold mining," he said.

Aggressive coal mining would also lead to disastrous consequences, as acid and toxins from abandoned mines would leak into the environment.

"Abandoned coal mines are ticking timebombs for the environment, mainly due to acid mine drainage, whereby water draining from the mines is filled with heavy metals and carcinogenic substances like benzene," Peek said.

Eskom was currently building a coal power station in Mpumalanga which would be one of the biggest in the world.

"Where the Eskom Kusile plant is situated, there are 10 other Eskom power stations. The air pollution monitoring in May to August 2010 highlighted that the air pollution ambient standards were transgressed on more than 500 occasions," he said.

South Africa was the 11th biggest emitter of carbon dioxide worldwide.

"The state utility Eskom accounts for a large part of these emissions as it generates over 90% of its electricity in coal-fired power plants," Peek said.

  • Gungets - 2011-11-30 23:18

    OK then. So the SA banks refuse to finance them. The Chinese step in, finance them, probably at higher rates, the power stations happen anyway, the SA taxpayer gets fleeced for the premium rates and all the interest flows offshore. That works for me - NOT!. Groundwork se moer. They are just opportunists, making money out of the myth that humans are causing global warming. The very last thing that all these scientists, politicians and general hangers on want is for (the completely natural and cyclical) climate change to go away, because they might need to do an honest days work. I am starting to get the moer in about the whole thing.

      Fred - 2011-12-01 04:16

      Gungets the scientist and climatologist - care to give us more information that human activity has no influence on climate change!

      Gungets - 2011-12-01 06:44

      @Fred - This is about some whacked out "monitoring group" saying our banks should not finance power stations, not climate change. Would you care to attack that logic. Then, we can argue about APG. In a word - there are now millions of people who are making money out of TALKING about climate change. Not doing anything, just beating their gums. How many different ways can you get paid to describe a problem. THEN - please tell me how you would expect Standard Bank and Nedbank to act. Should they close the account of anyone that has not installed solar heating perhaps (I have), or refuse to finance a car that is not a hybrid. Don't try and subvert the message here.

      Gungets - 2011-12-01 06:52

      Just to add one more thing. 20,000 people just flew to Durban on about 150 fully loaded aircraft, were trundled about in 200 busses, eating out in restuarants and will then wing their way home having agreed to ...... NOTHING. Achieved ... NOTHING. The money would have been better spent on research into alternative energy sources, or at least how to actually implement them. Forget about supply side methods, they will never work. Work on demand side. Get jobs, or create them, actually DOING something instead of sitting around yapping. Jolie, Bono, please. PLEASE!!

      marc.desfontaines - 2011-12-01 06:57

      You're an ignorant chop....!!!

      mike.clery - 2011-12-01 07:06

      @Fred - a link someone posted elsewhere on this subject. The truth, as always, probably lies somewhere in the middle. With all the "free money" involved through, the truth probably lies closer to the side saying it's all nonsense.

      Gungets - 2011-12-01 07:26

      @Marc. That's the way we like it. Thoughtful argument, backed up with relevant fact and justified accordingly. Well done, please apply to the IPCC for work immediately. You will fit right in. -----> my comments have nothing to do with the provision of alternative for supply-side power. I support those 100% - it is about the hangers on, and the silly people who now want to attack non related inductry just to make a name for themselves. Instead of just making a banal statement as you just have, please point out what you think the banks should do. Should they refuse finance to anyone that is not 100% green. What car do you drive. If it is not electric, should the bank deny you finance for anything. Help me out here.

      Gungets - 2011-12-01 07:44

      @Marc - just a bye-the-way. Had a look at your website and we are much closer in what we think than you might believe. Since I am in Durban and you in JHB we will never get to have a pint and discuss that. To date I have installed solar heating, capture 20,750l of rainwater at a time, recycle all organic waste, plastic, paper, glass and metal. My "waste" meat products get frozen and taken to the local informal settlement where the use it. My domestic disposal is zero. In short, as already stated, my beef is with the people like the activists above who attack banks, who might not be perfect, but certainly Nedbank does more than most businesses towards helping the environment. I do NOT believe in AGW, but I support every effort to cut pollution, simply because it is bad for us. My aims are exactly that same as the loony-left-greens, just for completely different reasons. Will governments ever be able to do anything - NO. But private citizens can, by reducing our demand on large scale power providers, eventually making them extinct, rather than our fauna and flora. Same aim, but achievable, rather than the pointless posturing of Bobby Peek at Groundwork. AGW - No, clean earth 0- hell yes.

      Ernst - 2011-12-01 10:15

      @GUNGETS: Here is a rudimentary list of prestigious scientific organizations that, based on PEER-REVIEWED research, endorse Anthropogenic Global Warming: Scientific organizations endorsing the consensus The following scientific organizations endorse the consensus position that "most of the global warming in recent decades can be attributed to human activities": American Association for the Advancement of Science American Astronomical Society American Chemical Society American Geophysical Union American Institute of Physics American Meteorological Society American Physical Society Australian Coral Reef Society Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society Australian Bureau of Meteorology and the CSIRO British Antarctic Survey Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society Environmental Protection Agency European Federation of Geologists European Geosciences Union European Physical Society Federation of American Scientists Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies Geological Society of America Geological Society of Australia International Union for Quaternary Research (INQUA) International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics National Center for Atmospheric Research National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Royal Meteorological Society Royal Society of the UK

      Ernst - 2011-12-01 10:20

      @GUNGETS: "(the completely natural and cyclical) climate change to go away," The climate reacts to whatever forces it to change at the time; humans are now the dominant forcing. It's very easy to make bold statements, when it does not have to be scrutinized by the scientific fraternity. What makes you think that you are right and scientists, with PHD's actively publishing in peer-reviewed scientific journals, are wrong?

      Ernst - 2011-12-01 10:25

      @GUNGETS: Oh yeah, i forgot to say this. Please stop repeating the same denialist junk over and over again and stop making up conspiracies, it's pathetic. And also, back your bold statements up with citations pointing to peer reviewed research please.

      Gungets - 2011-12-01 11:50

      @Ernst - lets just agree to disagree. For every link you provide supporting AGW I can produce one that calls it simple bad science. So, unless we sit around a table with the scientists involved and have the expertise to decypher fact from fiction, we will not agree. I do not object to getting rid of all coal power stations. I agree with reducing emmissions, using susatainable energy. My issue is this, and you know it, that when the cycle reverts (as it may already have done) and the earth stops warming, then the backlash against the massive amounts of money wasted with the Cop rubbish will mean the end of all the good environmental initiatives. All the right things are being done, just for the wrong reason. And now we have the vultures like the "evaluation agencies" looking for issues where there are none, like smashing the banks for doing business. It is the lunatic fringe, and companies like Nedbank who sponsor real initiatives, which make a visible difference RIGHT NOW will be scared off. We have had this discussion - not going there again. Climate scientists cannot even agree with each other, now they want to undo the good that some do. That is my argument.

      Gungets - 2011-12-01 11:59

      @ Ernst - Just in response to your list of AGW supporting organisations, read below --------> It’s about time that liberals like Al Gore come up with a new crisis. Global warming (climate change) is running out of steam. Bob Unruh of WorldNetDaily reported that 31,000 U.S. scientists - 9,000 with doctorate degrees in atmospheric science, climatology, Earth science, environment and other specialties - have signed a petition rejecting global warming. The list of scientists includes 9,021 Ph.D.s, 6,961 at the master’s level, 2,240 medical doctors and 12,850 carrying a bachelor of science or equivalent academic degree. Global warming assumes that human production of greenhouse gases is destroying the Earth’s climate. According to the petition, “There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing, or will in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate. “Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth.” The Petition Project has been underway for 10 years. It’s a gradual movement but it was spurred on by the release of Gore’s “documentary” An Inconvenient Truth. -----> ----->

      Ernst - 2011-12-01 12:12

      @Gungets: Oh my god. Please provide me with citations to peer reviewed scientific literature that backs up what you are saying. Do you know what PEER-REVIEWED means? Let me spell it out to you: PEER-REVIEWED means that research has been scrutinized by the scientific fraternity. You dont seem able to provide me with such links. "Bob Unruh of WorldNetDaily reported that 31,000 U.S. scientists - 9,000 with doctorate degrees in atmospheric science, climatology, Earth science, environment and other specialties - have signed a petition rejecting global warming." The 30,000 scientists and science graduates listed on the OISM petition represent a tiny fraction (0.3%) of all science graduates. More importantly, the OISM list only contains 39 scientists who specialise in climate science.

      Ernst - 2011-12-01 12:25

      @Gungets: The following makes for very interesting viewing:

      Gungets - 2011-12-01 12:37

      @Ernst - I don't believe in god, no point in that. We will never agree, and someone will be proved right. The AGW okes will carry on, spending billions to avert something. If ti is proved that they are wrong then we will have total chaos on our hands. If they are right, bully for them. This comment thread started because of the criticism of banks - you have said absolutely nothing about that. Do you believe these banks should be rubbished for their financing of power stations or not. Answer that, we can have the AGW discussion (not) somewhere else. Simple answer, Yes, or No, is he right to criticise the banks as he has. Do you think Nedbank and Standard refusing to finance them will change one thing. ----> The peer reviewing thing. Anyone can find the right peer, just need to pay them.

      Ernst - 2011-12-01 13:33

      "The peer reviewing thing. Anyone can find the right peer, just need to pay them." Yeah, comming from gungets, the scientist himself that has so much experience with the peer-reviewed system. Anyone can pay people to post denialist, debunked statements on the internet and to make up conspiracy theories.

      Gungets - 2011-12-01 13:53

      @Ernst - I say again - "This comment thread started because of the criticism of banks - you have said absolutely nothing about that. Do you believe these banks should be rubbished for their financing of power stations or not. Answer that, we can have the AGW discussion (not) somewhere else. Simple answer, Yes, or No, is he right to criticise the banks as he has. Do you think Nedbank and Standard refusing to finance them will change one thing."

      erika.bezuidenhout.102 - 2013-01-14 12:17

      And now we can see why we struggle to get money out of these banks to start up a small business that would be more environment friendly than these people that they are giving these huge amounts of money to. And if I might add with the interest that is charged on all our accounts etc....

  • Lesley - 2011-12-01 00:10

    Oh please. Climate changes. Always has. Always will. We can't change that or delay it. It's inevitable. Don't be so gullible. Green shmeen. Get over it. Deal with it. I don't give a hoot who's green, who's not and most of all, I would be especially peeved if my bank starts spending money on green initiatives. They cannot afford it and neither can I.

      marc.desfontaines - 2011-12-01 07:05

      Not much hope for Lesley. Seem's the head in the sand approach is the way she/he is going to deal with "HUMAN INDUCED CLIMATE CHANGE". Good luck - got any kids?

      Ernst - 2011-12-01 10:21

      @Lesley: Climate reacts to whatever forces it to change at the time; humans are now the dominant forcing.

  • Marius Koen - 2011-12-01 01:09

    Oops! Some red( or should that be green) faces at Nedbank...

      Breinlekkasie - 2011-12-01 06:49

      Business as usual.

  • Brian - 2011-12-01 05:52

    Money rules the world. Not care for the environment. Not conserving wilderness, but rather raping it. I don't care whether its the banks, big business or the Chinese - MAN and his greed has effectively stuffed up a unique and beautiful planet.

      Brian - 2011-12-01 06:30

      Interesting to get a thumbs down on my post. Whoever you are - do you not care that your planet is slowly being murdered? Are you all cuddly and secure thinking that money can bail you out of any difficulties you may have in future just to survive? What about your children? Are you going to sit back and watch the destruction of the planet without any concern at all for what your kids will inherit? In a way I'm glad I'm in my twilight years. I won't be around to see what man has done. (No I don't have children).

      Gungets - 2011-12-01 06:48

      Brian - this is about the banks, not climate change. What would you have the banks do. I say again. Perhaps decline all home loans until you install solar heating and photovoltaic electricity generation. Refuse to finance any cars unless they are under 1100cc or electric. Perhaps Pick and Pay should also ask you to prove you recycle waste before selling you their goods?. Fascism anyone??

      Brian - 2011-12-01 07:29

      @gungets: The original article was not about cars and solar cells for home use. It was about the obscene amounts of money loaned (with the attendant interest being paid to the banks) to finance processes that are know to produce vast amounts of noxious gasses and by-products. That money would be better spent researching or importing alternative methods of power generation (for one), The outcry over the wind generator experiment in Durban was laughable. The blades of a wind turbine turn very slowly. The bats living in the area would be able to easily avoid the blades, even at night. If nothing else, the sound of the blades would discourage them. But because a few animal activists scream and shout, there is adverse publicity. This place, or the planet, will never 'go green'. Not as long as banks, in the name of greed, continue to finance old and inefficient technology.

      Gungets - 2011-12-01 07:55

      Brian - then answer the question. Should the SA banks refuse finance, just to have the foreign banks finance it. Nedbank to a hell of a lot for the environment, so the clubbing is wrong. What car do you drive. If not electric, do you think the banks, in their efforts to be green, should penalise you 2% on finance. Should you pay an extra 2% on your home loan because you do not have solar heating or recycle water. Simple question, requires a simple answer.

  • felican - 2011-12-01 06:23

    Well seems everything will be going 'Wong' instead of Green soon... Everything is just 'a little too late' as the saying goes. Because destruction already incurred will never be reversed no matter where in the world - never mind just the Banks.

  • Breinlekkasie - 2011-12-01 06:43

    I don't think this COP-17 bazaar is going to produce any solutions or plans. What I do see is a bunch of incompetent idiots accusing each other. A boxing match would have been more valuable.

  • malcolm - 2011-12-01 07:12

    What bank doesn't finance vehicles? Vehicles must surely be bigger pollutants than any other form of pollution globally. I think that it is a very weak attempt by these activists to make a big statement. Unfortunately Standard Bank and Nedbank just happened to be the targets of the day. Personally, I think it is highly irresponsible of thousands of these green activists to fly to South Africa, drive around durban in fuel consuming, pollutant cars, all at the expense of the environment, just for the sake of making a statement. I bet less than half a percent of them cycle or walk to the conference each day. All this, by todays modern electronic standards, when this conference could have been held with the use of technology, with nobody having to leave their own homes. I somehow feel that this whole conference is more about a free pissup for many, if not most of the activists. The world has gone mad.

  • jodi.kruger - 2011-12-01 07:28

    Besides that, Standard Bank also refuses to send me electronic statements, and insist on sending between 5 and 7 pages of statements every month. Upon asking them not to send the statements, they said they would be printed regardless and sent to my branch!! What kind of logic is that?

  • mike.clery - 2011-12-01 07:34

    "The state utility Eskom accounts for a large part of these emissions as it generates over 90% of its electricity in coal-fired power plants," Peek said. OK, so why all the opposition to nuclear if it can prevent this? The alternatives are NOT able to provide a continuous electricity supply, and some of them (like wind farms) are environmental horrors in their own right.

  • Murray - 2011-12-01 07:36

    What a stupid story. Of course Standard bank is the biggest culprit - it is the biggest bank. Oh! Nedbank is the second biggest bank and guess what - it,s number 2 on the environmentalists list! What are the statistical odds of that happening?

  • Ian - 2011-12-01 07:49

    Whoopee! So there are no more coal fired power stations and we all freeze to death and go back to the Stone Age. What progress.

  • pieterla - 2011-12-01 07:55

    HOT AIR from the talkers. stop talking, carbon footprint would be less. #justsaying

  • Soetdoring - 2011-12-01 08:02

    Get the real facts about our climate here This will be an eye opener. Please note the 2nd article on COP17.

  • Pur - 2011-12-01 08:10

    Everyone wants electricity but Standard Bank and Nedbank are wrong for financing new power stations? Geez, get real people.

      Milene - 2011-12-01 09:44

      The real culprit is the ESKOM monopoly – the way they choose to generate electricity. Why not make use of renewable energy. Last I checked the wind still blows 350 days of 365 in the Cape Province and we have lots of sun in Gauteng! It’s more expensive yes, but so are the rates we’re paying for coal generated electricity – up by about 250% (compound) over the last 3 years!

  • KCorsar - 2011-12-01 08:17

    This is worse than a prize fight. So as a few points made have been made on banks financing coal stations - I can imagine some other group coming forward if the banks had financed nuclear power stations instead, with some statistics on how badly the banks had performed. When people want to pick a bone with a particular sector its very easy to find statistics to 'support' your cause. In short with those that are 'opposed' to local banks funding coal power stations, what alternative do you propose Eskom shouls seek LOCAL funding for - PS it takes a while to build a coal power station and even longer for a nuclear power plant. So lets boycott the banks and Eskom, have more load shedding, try some African countries where this happens for up to 14 hours a day, every other day, then we will see who complains more. PS - dig deeper where do the local banks get some of the funding to finance some of these programmes, they arent able to provide this from solely their own resources, dig deeper into the funding sources that Eskom has access to and see if you see the following WORLD BANK; IFC. Then start pointing fingers.................

  • Pur - 2011-12-01 08:20

    This whole "Green" thing is just a diversion to get your mind off the end of the Mayan Calendar in December 2012, when the world will end anyway.

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