Climate protesters gather in person and online for Fridays for Future

Campaigners target Standard Chartered, urging bank to stop funding coal in emerging markets

Climate protesters from as many as 60 countries have gathered in person and online for Fridays for Future, a movement created by the Swedish activist Greta Thunberg.

Campaigners raised local issues alongside the globally co-ordinated campaign #cleanupStandardChartered, which calls on the London-headquartered Standard Chartered to divest from coal in emerging markets.

The action follows a letter activists wrote last month to the Standard Chartered chief executive, Bill Winters, calling for the FTSE100 bank to stop funding coal.

It said: “Standard Chartered is still one of the world’s largest coal-financing banks, fuelling the climate crisis.

“Mr Winters, funding destruction, killing the planet, and contributing to the death of its inhabitants must stop.”

Thunberg also tweeted a link to the campaign, claiming the bank had lent $24bn to coal, oil, and gas businesses since the Paris agreement on climate was signed in 2016.

In the Philippines, where Standard Chartered is the biggest funder of the coal industry, activists stood outside the bank’s headquarters with banners and placards.

Maths graduate and full-time activist Mitzi Jonelle Tan was part of a group that handed over a giant cheque to symbolise the amount of money the bank had lent to the coal industry in the country, which they said was $674m.

She said: “Put simply, we need immediate action because the climate crisis is here and it’s only going to get worse. And we need to choose the people and the planet over profits.

“That’s all we’re asking for that we listen to the science that we prioritise people because this is a matter of life and death. The climate crisis is already here.”

In the UK, student activist Dominique Palmer was part of a group that protested outside the University of Birmingham and Birmingham city council calling for divestment from fossil fuels. She also took part in online activism as part of the #cleanupStandardChartered campaign, using social platforms to boost the voices of people in other parts of the world who are more directly affected by the climate crisis.

Palmer said: “It’s so important that on this side of the world we’re also getting involved in helping pressure, and you know also helping platform, the voices of people who have already been directly impacted by it, so that’s why we’re taking action over here.”

Climate activists are increasingly targeting banks. Environmental campaigners put Barclays and HSBC under pressure last year and both banks have agreed to discuss divesting from fossil fuels.

A Standard Chartered spokesperson said: “We have made major strides in our coal policy over the past few years. We continue to review our positions in light of stakeholder feedback and intend to remain leaders in articulating a path to net zero by 2050. We are committed to detailed transparency on our transition strategy and plan to put it to a shareholder advisory vote in 2022.

“Our position regarding coal is that we will not provide financial services directly toward new coal-fired power plant projects in any location. We will not provide financial services directly toward any coal-fired power plant expansions, retrofits or dedicated infrastructure.”


Robyn Vinter

The GuardianTramp

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