Cover image: The crowd outside Standard Bank Head Offices in Rosebank demanding them to divest from fossil fuel and to rather finance renewable energy.
On Monday 12 June, Earthlife Africa Johannesburg and 300 environmental activists and communities descended on Standard Bank’s AGM in protest of the bank’s involvement in the financing of TotalEnergies’ East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) in Uganda & Tanzania. The demonstrators join other organisations outside Standard Bank’s Head Office in Rosebank JHB, sending a clear message to shareholders that, in a continent already wracked by climate change, they should reject financing for such potentially destructive projects. The time has come to end fossil fuels and move to a just transition with renewable energy sources.
According to Earthlife Africa, “We stand in solidarity with our comrades in Uganda and Tanzania who oppose the EACOP – the world’s longest heated crude oil pipeline project – because it will cost the wellbeing of those communities. We have similar issues here, where profits are put before people and we want our fellow Africans to know that we support their efforts because we also want a sustainable, just and prosperous future, for all Africans.”
Earthlife Africa director, Makoma Lekalakala addressing the crowd during the protest.
The EACOP project has already resulted in many human and environmental rights violations, with “forced relocations, unfair and inadequate compensation, intimidations and violence towards defenders, and the potential destruction of ecosystems and water sources which millions depend on for livelihood and sustenance”.
Earthlife Africa Program Officer Ulrich Steenkamp says, “We want to encourage the stakeholders and investors of Standard Bank to divest from fossil fuels and also to not invest in this potentially extremely destructive oil pipeline that they are trying to build in East Africa. We strongly oppose the EACOP, not just from an environmental perspective but also from a social perspective because this pipeline will be uprooting hundreds of communities, all along East Africa.”
Community members voicing their displeasure of the financial decisions of Standard Bank.
Earthlife Africa’s Coal Campaigner Thabo Sibeko says, “Today we want to remind Standard Bank investors that they need to divest from fossil fuels. It is high time that these investors actually invest in alternative energy and refrain from investing in destructive projects like oil and new coal. We are here in solidarity with other comrades in Uganda and Tanzania, who oppose the EACOP. The time has come to move away from fossil fuels and other destructive projects and move steadily towards renewable energy in the African continent.”
Mummy Maybe from Tembisa says, “We are here to protest against Standard Bank and their terrible energy investments that make people sick because of toxic emissions.”
Ntswaki Mokoena from Vosloorus says, “We are here because we want Standard Bank to stop funding these people that are killing people and the environment with fossil fuels.”
Doreen Mashaba from Soweto says, “We are here because we are opposed to these investments that are making us sick by polluting our air.”
Senior Programs Officer, Thabo Sibeko addressing the gathering. Motivating why the decisions of Standard Bank will heavily influence the future of the planet.
Earthlife Africa’s Director Makoma Lekalakala attended the AGM, presenting the bank with a certificate in recognition of its #HumanRightsViolations, through its persistent funding of harmful fossil fuels. “We presented the award to Standard Bank Group Limited in recognition of its human rights violations, which contravenes its own human rights policy, including adherence to equator principles and project funding. This certificate comes from communities who are already negatively impacted by the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) and the organisations standing in solidarity with those communities whose voices continue to be ignored. We see Standard Bank is speaking more about environmental social safeguards, but I wonder if due diligence is being done. I have been to Welmer and heard what the people are saying. Standard Bank must remember that due diligence must be done in every single project that it considers financing,” she says.
Learn more about the StopEACOP Campaign and the dangers of the EACOP project: https://www.stopeacop.net/