US residents call out ING Bank in Rotterdam
Climate campaigner and reseacher,
Climate campaigner and reseacher,
On Tuesday October 10, a huge banner was dropped from the ING branch on Rotterdam's Coolsingel. The text: Our gulf is not your sacrifice zone. Four residents from the Gulf of Mexico shared their story with Rotterdammers on the square. ING Bank heavily finances LNG terminals in their region, leading to severe environmental damage and health impacts locally.
The banner was put up by ING Fossielvrij, a collective of ING customers and other citizens concerned about the bank's involvement in fossil fuel financing. With the banner, ING Fossil Free is showing their solidarity with communities in Texas and Louisiana. They are fighting against the LNG terminals now being built or expanded in their backyard ('Our gulf' is the Gulf of Mexico). The US guests Elida Castillo from Chispa Texas, Chloe Torres and Jenny Espino from Texas Campaign for the Environment and Michael Esealuka from Break Free From Plastic were hosted in the Netherlands by BankTrack.
The reason for the demonstration is the fact that ING Bank is the third-largest financier worldwide of LNG terminals in the US. The bank released a new climate report last week, but again failed to take the opportunity to make their portfolio of 'midstream' financing, which includes LNG terminals, more sustainable. Since the invasion of Ukraine, Europe has been increasingly relying on liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the United States. Rotterdam import terminal Gate even wants to expand.
However, this increasing reliance on LNG has largely underexposed impacts on the climate and on the people living near the infrastructure. Emissions from the LNG plants are harming the community members’ health, and construction on erosion-prone coastlines makes them especially vulnerable to sea level rise. People locally even speak of 'sacrifice zones', vulnerable areas sacrificed for the global LNG hunger. These areas are home to many indigenous, Latinx and Black Americans.
Three of the US speakers are from Corpus Christi and the surrounding area. Corpus Christi is part of the Texas Coastal Bend region where about 500,000 people live. Dutch TV programme Pointer recently wrote about the terminal in this port region, which also supplies LNG to the Netherlands: The terminal is being expanded and will eventually emit 6.4 million tonnes of greenhouse gases a year. That's about as much as the Netherlands' biggest polluter Tata Steel. Adding up all greenhouse gases, the steel giant emitted 6.3 million tonnes in 2019.
Chloe Torres from Texas Campaign for the Environment: “Our Coastal Bend community has dealt with decades of environmental racism as a direct result of collusion between careless public officials and insatiable financial institutions. In addition to high rates of cancer amongst those in direct proximity to fossil fuel facilities, nearly 20% of children in our area suffer from respiratory illnesses. We not only want a just future for our home, we want a just present as well and that means pressuring banks like ING to divest from poisonous LNG projects. We deeply appreciate the efforts of Fossielvrij and BankTrack to help us secure divestment and therefore a safer and healthier Texas Coastal Bend.”
Henrieke Butijn, Climate campaigner and researcher at BankTrack: “ING's financing for LNG terminals in the US is incentivising a continuation, and possibly an increase, in gas production, which will worsen the climate crisis and lock us into fossil fuels for decades to come. New LNG terminals furthermore will come online too late to offer a solution to the current energy crisis. Above all, ING's finance shows a troubling disregard for human rights. The terminals are being constructed in an area where Indigenous peoples and communities of colour are already grappling with disastrous pollution levels and coastline erosion. ING needs to stop financing all new fossil fuel infrastructure, acknowledge its role in exacerbating environmental injustice, and contribute to remediating the impacts that the communities are experiencing.”
Pieter Sellies, Campaigncoordinator ING Fossielvrij: “We have seen how much suffering gas extraction has caused the Groningers. That tap is now closed. But instead of accelerating the sustainability trajectory and saving as much energy as possible, we are satisfying our gas hunger with LNG from the other side of the world. Made possible in part by ING. They are now saddling people over there with misery and we are no step closer to a climate-just society."