Standard Bank faces protest over plans to fund oil pipeline

Environmental activists are objecting to Standard Bank's funding of fossil fuel projects. Photo: iStock
Environmental activists are objecting to Standard Bank's funding of fossil fuel projects. Photo: iStock

Standard Bank Group Ltd., which is Africa’s biggest bank by assets, faces opposition from environmental activists to its plan to fund an oil pipeline in East Africa. International group of climate activists that opposes the use of fossil fuels, 350.org will on Thursday hand over a petition signed by more than 20 000 people to the bank’s headquarters in Johannesburg, according to a statement.

The East African Crude Oil Pipeline is "set to traverse Uganda and Tanzania, causing potentially irreversible damage to farmlands and wetlands," 350.org said in the statement. Thirty million people in six nations will be affected, it said.

Uganda discovered commercially viable oil deposits in 2006 and plans to start production in 2023-24. Total SA and Cnooc Ltd. of China own fields in the country.

"Standard Bank is committed to doing business the right way," the bank said in a response to questions. "We support responsible investment through assessing and managing our environmental, social and governance risks."

The funding of fossil fuels is also expected to take centre stage at Standard Bank's AGM which is set to take place on Friday, 26 June. According to shareholder activist group, Just Share, it and 14 other climate justice NGOs want shareholders to vote against the election of five of Standard Bank board directors who have ties with coal, oil and gas companies including Sasol, BP Southern Africa, South32 and Engen. 

Just Share said seven of Standard Bank's board members have ties to the fossil fuel industry. But the five that the organisation wants to step down, which include deputy chairman and former CEO of the Standard bank Group, Jacko Maree drew the ire of climate justice and environmental NGOs because they are currently serving in boards of companies producing coal, oil and other fossil fuels.

With additional reporting from Londiwe Buthelezi

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