Deutsche Bank Ditches Arctic Drilling After Pressure From Activists
By Krissy Waite
The bank, a multinational investment company headquartered in Germany, announced Monday that it will no longer offer financial services to new projects that involve drilling for oil or gas in the Arctic. The policy also states it will not fund any tar sand projects or fracking in areas that have low water supply.
Concerns over the Arctic have risen in recent weeks as the region has been battling a prolonged heatwave and wildfires, which have been caused by human-driven climate change.
Last week, the World Meteorological Organization announced that Siberia's average temperature in June was 10°C above normal. The Arctic is warming over two times faster than the rest of the world.
Ben Cushing, Sierra Club senior campaign representative, said in a statement that it is becoming clear to banks that divesting from Arctic drilling is important. He pointed to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which spans over 19 million acres of Alaskan land.
"As the list of major banks rejecting funding for Arctic drilling continues to grow, it's clearer by the day that investing in the destruction of the Arctic Refuge would be a mistake," Cushing said. "The Trump administration may still think auctioning off the Arctic Refuge is a good idea, but it′s obvious that oil companies would be foolish to take them up on their offer."
In 2017, Congress passed a provision allowing refuge lands to be leased to oil companies. Drilling is incredibly harmful to the people and wildlife that live in the refuge because it because it divides natural habitats and interrupts migration patterns. Polar bears, caribou, and the 270 other species of wildlife — and the Gwich'in people who rely on certain animals for sustenance — would suffer.
Deutsche stated it will not be terminating any current financial backing of Arctic drilling projects, but that it will be evaluating all ongoing oil and gas business ventures by the end of 2020 and end any business in coal mining by or before 2025.
Urgewald, a Germany-based environment and human rights NGO that focuses on divesting from destructive projects, tweeted in response to the news that while Deutsche Bank's policy is needed, it's too little and too late.
@DeutscheBankAG 's new policies are much-needed movement, but too little and too late. As long as companies like… https://t.co/DcqP5pE8S9— urgewald (@urgewald)1595852876.0
Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org, celebrated the news by congratulating Indigenous groups on their organizing.
Add @DeutscheBank to the growing list of banks that won't touch Arctic or tarsands projects. Such great organizing,… https://t.co/EIZt732RpT— Bill McKibben (@Bill McKibben)1595857366.0
Tara Houska, founder of Giniw Collective and co-founder of Not Your Mascots, welcomed the bank's decision and called for others to follow suit. "If DeutschBank can stop, any of the banks can," she said. "Who's next?"
Visited this bank in 2017, it had intense security. Felt the most removed, unconcerned about the human rights of th… https://t.co/wpEy2E7HOy— tara houska ᔖᐳᐌᑴ (@tara houska ᔖᐳᐌᑴ)1595858954.0
Deutsche Bank joins Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, Citi, JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley — five of the biggest American banks — in banning Arctic drilling from its company. Bank of America is currently the last of the largest banks in the U.S. to issue an anti-Arctic drilling policy or statement. Globally, about two dozen banks have adopted these policies.
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
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By Simon Montlake
For more than a decade, Susan Jane Brown has been battling to stop a natural gas pipeline and export terminal from being built in the backcountry of Oregon. As an attorney at the nonprofit Western Environmental Law Center, she has repeatedly argued that the project's environmental, social, and health costs are too high.
All that was before this month's deadly wildfires in Oregon shrouded the skies above her home office in Portland. "It puts a fine point on it. These fossil fuel projects are contributing to global climate change," she says.
Moderates Feeling the Heat<p>If elected, Mr. Biden has vowed to stop new drilling for oil and gas on federal land and in federal waters and to rejoin the 2015 Paris climate accord that President Donald Trump gave notice of quitting. He would reinstate Obama-era regulations of greenhouse gas emissions, including methane, the largest component of natural gas.</p><p>The Biden climate platform also states that all federal infrastructure investments and federal permits would need to be assessed for their climate impacts. Analysts say such a test could impede future LNG plants and pipelines, though not those that already have federal approval. </p><p>Climate change activists who pushed for that language say much depends on who would have oversight of federal agencies that regulate the industry. Some are wary of Biden's reliance on advice from Obama-era officials, including former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, who is now on the board of Southern Company, a utility, and a former Obama environmental aide, Heather Zichal, who has served on the board of Cheniere Energy, an LNG exporter. </p>
The Push for U.S. Fuel Exports<p>As vice president, Biden was part of an administration that pushed hard for global climate action while also promoting U.S. oil and gas exports to its allies and trading partners. As fracking boomed, Obama ended a 40-year ban on crude oil exports. In Europe, LNG was touted both as an alternative to coal and as strategic competition with Russian pipelines.</p><p>That much, at least, continued with President Trump. Under Energy Secretary Rick Perry, the agency referred to liquified U.S. hydrocarbons as "<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/29/us/freedom-gas-energy-department.html" target="_blank">freedom gas</a>."</p><p>Mr. Trump has also championed the interests of coal, oil, and gas while denigrating the findings of government climate scientists. He rejected the Paris accord as unfair to the U.S. and detrimental to its economy, but has offered no alternative path to emissions cuts. </p><p>Still, Trump's foreign policy has not always served the LNG industry: Tariffs on foreign steel drove up pipeline costs, and a trade war with China stayed the hand of Chinese LNG importers wary of reliance on U.S. suppliers. </p><p>Even his regulatory rollbacks could be a double-edged sword. By relaxing curbs last month on methane leaks, the U.S. has ceded ground to European regulators who are drafting emissions standards that LNG producers are watching closely. "That's a precursor of fights that will be fought in all the rest of the developed world," says Mr. Hutchison. </p><p>Indeed, some oil-and-gas exporters had urged the Trump administration not to abandon the tougher rules, since they undercut their claim to offer a cleaner-burning way of producing heat and electricity. "U.S. LNG is not going to be able to compete in a world that's focused on methane emissions and intensity," says Erin Blanton, a senior research scholar at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University. </p>
Stepping on the Gas<p>In July, the Department of Energy issued an export license to Jordan Cove's developer, Canada's Pembina Pipeline Corp. In a statement, Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette said the project would provide "reliable, affordable, and cleaner-burning natural gas to our allies around the world."</p><p>As a West Coast terminal, Jordan Cove offers a faster route to Asia where its capacity of 7.8 million tons of LNG a year could serve to heat more than 15 million homes. At its peak, its construction would also create 6,000 jobs, the company says, in a stagnant corner of Oregon.</p><p>But the project still lacks multiple local and state permits, and its biggest asset – a Pacific port – has become its biggest handicap, says Ms. Blanton. "They are putting infrastructure in a state where there's no political support for the pipeline or the terminal, unlike in Louisiana or Texas," she says. </p><p>Ms. Brown, the environmental lawyer, says she wants to see Jordan Cove buried, not just mothballed until natural gas prices recover. But she knows that it's only one among many LNG projects and that others will likely get built, even if Biden is elected in November, despite growing evidence of the harm caused by methane emissions. </p>
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