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A statement from civil society organisations to mark the launch of the Principles for Responsible Banking expresses significant reservations about what these new principles, and the banks signing up to them, are going to concretely deliver for people and planet.
As they launch today at the United Nations headquarters in New York, the Principles for Responsible Banking provide considerable leeway to signatory banks as to what is expected of them, and by when, which risks turning this initiative into yet another greenwashing tool that masks the destruction of the planet and egregious human rights abuses that are currently being fueled by much of the banking sector, including a significant number of the new initiative's signatory banks.
Calling for "principles to have consequences", the organisations maintain that:
"In order to truly align business strategies with the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement, we firmly believe that all Principles for Responsible Banking signatory banks must commit to immediately end all financing for fossil fuel expansion and activities driving deforestation or peatland destruction."
The statement from civil society organisations also calls on all signatory institutions to commit to a 1.5°C compatible phase-out of financing for the fossil fuel industry and forest-risk commodity sectors, based on a comprehensive assessment of their financing impacts and full transparency of the companies and projects being financed. Furthermore, signatory banks must fulfill all requirements of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), including by establishing or participating in UNGP-compatible grievance mechanisms.
Read the civil society statement in full here.