Amazon Watch Statement: Citi's New Environmental and Social Policy Falls Short

Citigroup's unambitious new policy, released just before its annual general meeting of shareholders, ignores the climate and Indigenous rights risks of oil drilling in the Amazon

Amazon Watch

For more information, contact:

Ada Recinos at +1.510.473.7542 or ada@amazonwatch.org


Today, Citigroup's shareholders will virtually attend the company's 2020 Annual General Meeting, during which shareholders will review and vote on key governing decisions. Just before the meeting, the company quietly released an update of its Environmental and Social Policy Framework, in which it made a series of new commitments restricting financing for coal and for oil and gas projects in the Arctic. It also rules out project financing that negatively impacts UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and says the bank will "treat transactions with extra caution and conduct enhanced due diligence" when its assets "may pose adverse effects" to areas used or traditionally claimed by Indigenous communities.

Moira Birss, Climate and Finance Director at Amazon Watch, issued the following statement in response:

"While we recognize Citi's moves to improve its policies on coal and Arctic oil projects, this move can in no way be considered an industry standard on climate or Indigenous rights, particularly in light of recent financing decisions made by the bank.

"Late last year, Citigroup provided a $315 million loan to oil company GeoPark to expand its drilling operations in the Amazon rainforest, in areas that directly overlap with the ancestral territories of Indigenous peoples like the Wampis, Siona, and Achuar, each of whom has vehemently opposed drilling. And over the last two years it provided at least $827 million in debt financing to enable the regional expansion of Amazon crude operations.

"If Citi truly cares about being a leader on climate and Indigenous rights, it must end corporate financing for fossil fuel expansion in the Amazon and around the world – particularly when that expansion is planned for the territories of Indigenous peoples."

Background

A March 2020 Amazon Watch report, Investing in Amazon Crude, highlighted Citigroup a top financier of Amazon crude oil: between (Q3)2017 and (Q4)2019, Citi contributed at least $827 million in debt financing to enable the expansion of operations for GeoPark, Frontera Energy, and Andes Petroleum, all crude oil companies planning to expand drilling operations on the territories of Indigenous peoples in the Amazon rainforest, in direct conflict with these peoples' expressed wishes.

GeoPark is a Chile-based oil and gas company with oil leases in Peru that overlap Achuar and Wampis territory. It recently completed the purchase of Amerisur, a British company with leases in the Colombian Amazon that overlaps with Siona and traditional campesino territory; Citi provided the bridge loan for this purpose. See pages 22-25 of Investing in Amazon Crude for details.

Frontera is a Canadian oil and gas company whose main asset in the Peruvian Amazon is Block 192, the largest oil field in Peru, infamous for its antiquated, leaky pipeline infrastructure. Achuar and neighboring Indigenous communities have staged regular protests against the operations of the oil field. See pages 20-21 of Investing in Amazon Crude for details.

Andes Petroleum is a petroleum exploration and production partnership of two Chinese state-owned companies that has held leases for blocks in the Ecuadorian Amazon overlapping the territory of the Kichwa of Sarayaku and the Sapara. The Sapara nation was included in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2001. See pages 18-19 of Investing in Amazon Crude for details.

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