Civil society delegation calls on regulators and central banks to end fossil fuel financing

June 26, 2023|Written by Moriah Costa|Bank of International Settlements

Climate activists from around the world gathered in Basel, Switzerland to demand financial regulators put an end to fossil fuel financing, ahead of the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) annual general meeting on Sunday.

The group asked the BIS to define fossil fuels as high-risk investments, which has already been done for crypto assets. Doing so would require banks to have more capital requirements and, the group hopes, limit their funding of fossil fuels.

“The watchdogs of the global financial system need to rein in the banks and stop fossil finance once and for all,” said María Elena Foronda Farro, a Peruvian activist fighting against oil projects on the coasts and Amazon of Peru.

Other activists like Fernanda Herrera, are hoping to bring to light the deadly impact that fracking has on local communities in Argentina.

“People die from the contaminated water and soil that fracking leaves behind, while those that stand up against it face persecution and criminal charges. The banks financing and profiting from this destruction need to be put under control,” she said.

A group of indigenous and climate activists met with Louis Silva da Pereira, deputy secretary of the Bank of International Settlements (BIS), on Tuesday to ask the group to consider putting in place more capital requirements for banks lending to fossil fuel projects, as well as insurance companies which have had more capital risks due to extreme weather events.

They also gave the BIS a petition of over 54,000 signatures, asking the financial watchdog to put in place rules to help put the planet first. These rules would include prohibiting the financing of industrial developments in critical ecosystems, forcing banks to respect Indigenous People’s rights to say no to fossil exploitation on their land, adopting higher capital requirements for all new fossil fuel projects, and putting pressure on finance ministers to repair loss and damage caused by fossil fuels.

The financial sector is driving climate change by continuing to invest in fossil fuels, nor is it ’playing its role’ in fighting climate change,” said Canadian senator and climate advocate Rosa Galvez, who is also attending the People’s Forum.

Her office has long advocated for the Canadian financial sector to align with climate commitments, such as increased capital requirements; making the fiduciary duty clearer; avoiding conflicts of interest by prohibiting bank officials to serve on the board of fossil fuel companies and vice versa; and a clear roadmap and action plan to align all financial products with climate commitments.

As the world has started to get warmer and extreme weather events have become more common, people around the world are starting to take action. On Sunday, Switzerland voted in favour of a public referendum that would cut carbon emissions by 2050 and work with the Swiss financial sector to align with the Paris Agreement.

“Everybody is affected by climate change. Everybody everywhere. The only difference is that some people seem to be more prepared because they have more resources,” said Galvez.

This page was last updated June 26, 2023

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