Brussels (Brussels Morning) European banks have decided to stop financing Ecuador oil trade following criticism from environmental protection activists, Reuters reports on Monday.
The banks in question are Dutch ING Group, Swiss Credit Suisse and French BNP Paribas, and their decision comes after a report by the Amazon Watch and Stand.earth organisations, which was released in August of last year.
The report pointed out that six European banks are financing oil exports from Ecuador to the US, naming the three plus Swiss UBS, Dutch Rabobank and French Natixis. According to the report, the six European banks between them financed Ecuadorian oil exports to the US worth approximately US$ 10 billion over the past decade.
Activists cited the banks’ hypocrisy, stressing they had made environmental protection pledges while financing the oil industry in Ecuador, which plans to extract hydrocarbons in the Yasuni National Park.
The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon (CONFENIAE) had sounded the alarm claiming the banks are complicit in land rights violations, oil spills and destruction of rainforest by the oil industry in Ecuador.
CONFENIAE head Marlon Vargas welcomed the decision and added that “banks should finance other forms of economic development, but not oil extraction.”
ING noted it will not engage in new oil and gas contracts in the Ecuadorian Amazon, adding it wants to protect the Amazon.
Credit Suisse stressed it will phase out financing of oil exports from Ecuadorian and Peruvian Amazon, noting that it “reviews and updates its sector-specific policies on a regular basis.”
BNP Paribas said it arrived at its decision in December last year, and that bank “is committed to the continuous improvement of its sustainability strategy.”
Rabobank reported in August last year that it had stopped financing oil exports from Ecuador earlier in 2020.
UBS noted it is in contact with activist groups and committed to environmental standards, stressing “we have declined transactions where the origin of oil is verifiably associated with breaches of our standards, such as indigenous peoples’ land rights or UNESCO World Heritage Sites.”
Natixis says it “has declined to finance any new clients involved in oil exports from Ecuador since mid-2020 and has reduced the number of existing clients it works with in this area.”