Global banking giant ABN AMRO awarded for environmental hypocrisy
Dutch bank violating commitment to the environment by bidding on biggest oil drilling project in history
By Milieudefensie | San Francisco, May 11 2006
A full page advertisement in today's Washington Post exposes Dutch banking giant ABN Amro's environmental hypocrisy for bidding to fund one of the most environmentally and socially destructive projects in history.
The ad comes the day before ABN Amro is scheduled to accept the World Environment Center's 2006 Gold Medal Award for "International Corporate Achievement in Sustainable Development. Purchased by Rainforest Action Network, Pacific Environment and Sakhalin Environment Watch, the ad calls on ABN Amro to live up to its reputation as a global leader in sustainability and withdraw its bid to finance the highly controversial Sakhalin II oil and gas project, the biggest oil and gas exploration project in history.
The bank was a leader in the development and institution of the Equator Principles, the first ever framework for incorporating social and environmental practices in private bank lending. Due to the impacts to several endangered species, including the world's 100 remaining Western Grey Whales, as well as the negative impacts on the local fishing community, Sakhalin II violates these principles.
"Sakhalin II's radical resource extraction is exactly the type of project that the Equator Principles were designed to prevent"; said Ilyse Hogue, director of Rainforest Action Network's Global Finance Campaign. "While other banks are making tough decisions and centralizing sustainability in their business operations, ABN Amro is forsaking its commitment to these principles by bidding to fund this project. To accept an environmental award while doing so is environmental hypocrisy at its worst. ABN Amro and all other Equator Banks have no credible choice but to withdraw their support for Sakhalin II."
The ad affirms that ABN Amro promotes itself as an environmental leader for having led the 2003 implementation of the Equator Principles. Led by Royal Dutch Shell, Sakhalin II is a $20 billion operation to extract oil and gas from beneath the coast of Far East Russia's Sakhalin Island. Several Equator Principles signatory banks have declined to fund Sakhalin II due to serious environmental and social concerns, including the danger to the Western Pacific Gray Whale, a population on the verge of extinction.
"ABN Amro giving money to Sakhalin II is the same as giving money for extinction of whales and the destruction of salmon runs" said David Gordon, Pacific Environment's Executive Director. "ABN Amro should be a real environmental leader and reject financing for oil drilling in Sakhalin."
Other concerns include a planned pipeline that would span 21 active seismic faults and hundreds of wild salmon spawning habitats, as well the dumping of two million tons of dredging spoil into Aniva Bay – threatening a key fishery and the livelihoods of many Sakhalin islanders.
BankTrack, an international campaign network focusing on private investments has released a report entitled "Sakhalin II Gas and Oil Project: Further Breaches of the Equator Principles" that details the violations of the project.
ABN Amro will be honored at The World Environment Center's (WEC) greenwashing gala in Washington, D.C. this Friday. The WEC is an industry-driven organization, heavily led and supported by Shell, that purports to promote sustainable development by multinational corporations. Past Gold Medal 'environmental leaders' include Dow Chemical, British Petroleum, DuPont, Exxon, and Royal Dutch Shell. Activists plan to be at Friday's event to present ABN Amro with an award for Outstanding Environmental Hypocrisy, an honor they truly deserve.
"The future of our land and our way of life is at risk", said Dmitry Lisitsyn of Sakhalin Environment Watch. "There is a clear opportunity here to invest in the long term health of our community and our environment rather than the short term profits generated from this destructive oil project. We call on ABN Amro and all financial institutions, especially those that have signed the Equator Principles, to reject this project"
Rainforest Action Network campaigns for the forests, their inhabitants,and the natural systems that sustain life by transforming the global marketplace through education, grassroots organizing, and non-violent direct action.