Tuesday, 24 May 2022

Finance sector has moral imperative to exclude Russian fossil fuel firms

5 min read

A coalition of non-government organisations (NGOs) and groups around the world are calling on financial institutions most exposed to Russian oil, gas and coal to cease all ties with these companies, and to stop propping up Putin’s illegal war on Ukraine.

Over 75 organisations, including Reclaim Finance, BankTrack, Stand.earth, Greenpeace, Sierra Club, and Rainforest Action Network, are writing to global banks, insurers, and asset managers that are most active in the Russian fossil fuel sector, including JP Morgan Chase, Crédit Agricole, Citi, Vanguard, Chubb, Lloyd’s of London and Munich Re. Groups are asking them to commit to not providing new financing, investment, insurance coverage and other financial services to companies, which make up the core of Russia’s coal, oil and gas industry, and divesting from existing assets.

This is the start of a campaign that will target up to 100 financial institutions most exposed to Russian fossil fuels, dubbed the Putin 100.

Desmond Tutu said that choosing neutrality in the face of injustice is tantamount to choosing the side of the oppressor. “You would be guilty of crossing that line by maintaining your support for companies that are helping to directly fuel Russia’s war in Ukraine,” the signatories said.

"The export of coal, oil and gas is bankrolling Putin’s autocratic regime and his illegal war on Ukraine. Financial institutions should immediately stop supporting the production of these fossil fuels," the campaigners said.

However, these institutions have remained silent. Oil and gas sales made up 36% of Russia’s budget last year and have allowed Putin to build up $470 billion in foreign reserves. According to Morningstar, 14% of ESG investment funds are exposed to Russia.

Svitlana Krakovska, the Ukrainian climate scientist and IPCC report co-author said, “Human-induced climate change and the war on Ukraine have the same roots — fossil fuels,  and our dependence on them”.

The list of Russian companies to be excluded comprises over 60 major oil, gas, and coal companies that are either headquartered or active in Russia. The letter also calls on financial institutions to suspend all support for TotalEnergies, Fortum/Uniper, Wintershall DEA and other non-Russian fossil fuel companies active in Russia.

Svitlana Romanko, Ukraine-based climate activist and strategist said, "Though there is a war, a horrific war in Ukraine, financial institutions and fossil fuel companies are actively financing Russian oil, gas and coal and thereby fueling continued aggression and Putin’s war machine".

"We call upon the governments, western companies and financial institutions to divest, end all trade and to embargo all fossil fuels from Russia. We call for justice and peace. The world’s addiction to fossil fuels continues to create conflict around the world. We call to overcome this. We want no more wars. Fossil fuel expansion globally must be immediately halted. Nations worldwide must commit to the rapid and just transition away from all fossil fuels and fossil fuel non-proliferation. Fossil fuel companies cannot be allowed to make their ‘peace washing’ to justify extensive fossil fuel exploration.”

Peter Bosshard, coordinator of the Insure our Future campaign said, “International banks, investors and insurance companies – the Putin 100 – have bankrolled the Russian petro-state for many years. At a time when even oil majors have written off billions of dollars in Russian assets overnight, the finance sector is missing in action. These financiers should immediately stop all support for oil, gas and coal companies”.

Lucie Pinson, executive director of Reclaim Finance said, “It’s horrific to find out that even in a time of war, many financial institutions are trying to straddle the fence and condemn Putin’s war while protecting vested interests in the oil and gas industry. Our call goes beyond putting all Russian fossil fuel industry on notice and financial institutions must sever ties with TotalEnergies which refuses to leave Russia. All eyes are turned towards Crédit Agricole, the top banker and second largest shareholder in the French oil and gas major”.

Re-disseminated by The Wealth and Society



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