Mar 6, 2017 - Europeans Press for Divestment from Dakota Access Pipeline and Fossil Fuels
March 6 2017 – For Immediate Release: First fruits of the Geneva mobilization for Standing Rock and the Climate at the Swiss Credit Bank: The bank was forced to recognize its important stake in the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the UNIA trade union of Geneva has asked its pension fund to divest.
The Swiss Credit Bank is the biggest funder of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) – destructive project relaunched by the Trump regime – financing $1,4 billion out of a total of $3.8 billion.
Several organizations and 150 people rallied thursday, 2nd of March 2017, in front of Swiss Credit headquarters in Geneva to denounce its decisive involvement in the expulsion of the Sioux Lakota at Standing Rock and to demand that the project be stopped
Thursday, the bank was forced to recognise the importance of its share in the DAPL, after having until then tried to deny it. It also recognised that the loans were issued following a «sustainability» evaluation using criteria even less rigourous than the already notoriously inadequate «Ecuador principles».
Friday, the UNIA construction trade union of Geneva called upon its pension fund to divest from all financial institutions financing the project. The Communauté Genevoise d’Action Syndicale (CGAS), the coordinating body of all Genevan unions, has proposed to the other unions to do likewise.
The Swiss Credit Bank finally recognizes its implication in the project, despite its violation of the rights of indigenous peoples and its effect on the climate. Interviewed by Swiss Television, the bank had first maintained that it did not finance the project, despite the fact the research by Greenpeace Suisse revealing the contrary and demonstrating that Swiss Credit is the most important actor of the 17 banks involved.
Faced with the facts and the popular pressure, the bank finally admitted its involvement as «lead agent» of the financial consortium which lent $850 million for the project, confirming the figures published by the SEC quoted by Greenpeace Suisse. It declined to comment concerning the further $600 million lent by the bank to other companies involved.
Finally, it conceded that only a «standard» (i.e minimal ) sustainability evaluation had been done, with the excuse that the loan had been granted to the company in general, and not for a specific project.
Swiss Credit thus disregards its own «sustainability guidelines», whose application are supposed to make it an «exemplary enterprise» with regard to sustainable development. It also violates Convention 169 of the ILO concerning indigenous peoples’ rights, which Swiss foreign policy and aid officially support.
UNIA trade union and the Communauté Genevoise d’Action Syndicale (CGAS) take a stand. As representative of workers in the CPPIC pension fund, UNIA has taken a stand in support of the Lakota of Standing Rock. It condemns Swiss Credit’s involvement with DAPL and urgently asks the fund to:
«-Request an an expertise of the possible involvement of our investments in the DAPL, and to transfer rapidly these investments in fossil fuels towards renewable energies.
-To ensure that future investments respect the right of indigenous peoples to free, informed and prior consent concerning all projects on their territories.
-To contact Swiss Credit Bank in order to obtain all necessary information concerning their involvement with the DAPL project, and to evaluate in that light whether to continue to invest with this bank.»
The dignity of a people faced with commandos and tanks Last February 23rd, police and military expulsed the last defenders, Sioux Lakota and their allies, at Standing Rock. Non-violent and dignified, over the past year they had opposed the construction of the DAPL pipeline crossing their sacred lands and the Missouri river. The project relaunched by the Trump regime violates the elementary rights of this people, and endangers their principal water supply and that of millions of people downstream, while simultaneously flouting the engagements of the United States to limit climate change.
First victories of a broad movement for divestment in Europe and the world
Faced with the complexities of the financing and the number of partners involved, the divestment goes ahead in severa countries and at several levels.
In Norway, several actors have initiated the withdrawal of their support from the DAPL. The biggest private investment fund of the country, Storebrand, has sold shares worth $34.8 million in three companies co-owners of DAPL. Similarly, the DNB Bank has sold related investments worth $3 million and the investment fund Odin Fund Management announced having sold for $23.8 million invested in partners of the project.
In Holland, the ABN-AMRO bank has warned that it will cease its relations with Energy Transfer Equity, owner of Energy Transfer Partners, which is itself the principal owner of DAPL, the main company constructing the pipeline, and providing $45 million in financing.
Generally speaking the divestment is taking off. On February 7th, the city of Seattle announced their withdrawal of $3 billion deposited at Wells Fargo. On February 18th, more than 120 private investors holding $650 million in banks financing DAPL sent a letter to the defenders of Standing Rock, supporting the demand that the pipeline avoid Sioux territory.
Together, to face the dangers of climate change and to defend fundamental rights. It is indispensable to divest the colossal sums still invested in fossil fuels and to engage an energy transition much more rapidly than at present. Today, the 25 biggest financial institutions, including Swiss Credit Bank, invest 9 times more in fossil fuels than in energy sobriety or renewables.
We reaffirm our support for the Dakota Sioux and their allies, and we associate ourselves with their call to divest DAPL Divest & Invest.
We have rallied for the termination of this scandalous project, and expect from the Swiss Credit and other banks a rapid transfer of their fossil fuel investments towards renewables. We call upon all their clients, individuals and institutions (pension funds, etc.) to do likewise, and if necessary to transfer their accounts elsewhere.
We demand that Swiss Credit’s investments respect indigenous peoples’ right to free, prior and informed consent concerning all projects in their territories. Civil society’s mobilization is only in its first stages. It will continue in the coming months until Swiss Credit respects the rights of indigenous peoples, withdraws from DAPL and divests fossil fuels.
Alternatiba Léman & Rhône, Collectif Breakfree, CADTM, Coordination Climat Justice Sociale, SolidaritéS, SolidaritéS Jeunes, ATTAC -GE, L’autre Syndicat, UNIA – GE, CGAS, Collectif contre la Spéculation sur les Matières Premières, CETIM, les Verts et Parti Socialiste Genevois
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Posted by Wakíƞyaƞ Waánataƞ (Matt Remle- Lakota)