Environmental groups from around the globe on Monday urged some of the world's biggest banks to stop their massive loan payments to the US$3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline and demanded strong climate change commitments.
At least 13 international banks including Citigroup, ING, Wells Fargo and BBVA “are involved in a credit agreement with Dakota Access LCC and Energy Transfer Crude Oil Company LLC, to borrow up to US$2.5 billion to construct the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Energy Transfer Crude Oil Pipeline,” read the open letter from Dutch organization BankTrack.
“It’s clear that the Dakota Access pipeline project has violated the sovereignty of the Standing Rock Sioux and their right to determine the future of their lands," said Lindsey Allen, Executive Director of Rainforest Action Network. "Citibank’s leading role in financing the pipeline makes it complicit in gross violations of Indigenous and human rights."
The letter, with the support of 26 other international civil society organizations, was addressed to Nigel Beck, head of the Equator Principles Association, an international group of banks supposedly committed to environmentally and socially responsible practice, urging the association to stop their payments for the pipeline and to reconsider its climate change commitments ahead of its annual meeting in London.
There were also eight banks who were a part of the association that gave additional credit to project sponsors of the pipeline, which environmentalists and Native American tribes say will destroy their spiritual lands – including burial grounds – and also pollute the local environment and water supplies.
BankTrack called on the banks to demand that the project sponsors halt construction on the 1,172 mile pipeline until issues are resolved with affected Native American tribes.
The letter also states that Equator Principles for climate change mitigation are not adequate enough and “seems to be in near-complete denial on the severity of the climate crisis,” while member banks “have continued to enthusiastically finance” dirty power sources such as coal mines, fracking, and oil exploration.
“Banks have a choice to either finance the transition to renewable energy, or to finance pipelines and power plants that will lock us into fossil fuels for the next 40 years,” said BankTrack director Johan Frijns to the New York Times.
The urge for change comes as representatives from around the world meet in Marrakech, Morocco, for the COP22 meetings to bring into action last year's historic Paris Climate Change Agreement.