14 May 2021, 14:08
Edgar Meza

German Fridays for Future activists take aim at financial sector

Clean Energy Wire

The youth climate activists from Fridays for Future are for the first time specifically targeting banks and other financial services companies for their involvement in the fossil fuel industry. The campaign has Germany’s Commerzbank in its crosshairs, with activists across the country set to protest in front of individual branches and draw attention to what they describe as the lender’s “misconduct”.  According to Fridays for Future, the bank has invested 9.78 billion euros in climate-damaging companies since committing to the Paris Climate Agreement. In doing so, the bank is "massively financing the climate crisis and blocking important funds for a sustainable systemic change," the activists write. The campaign makes specific demands of the financial sector: All banks should introduce relative criteria restricting the financing of a company whose sales are based on more than 20 percent coal or whose coal share in energy generation is more than 20 percent. In addition, lenders should no longer finance companies that produce 10 million tonnes or more of thermal coal and/or have more than 5 gigawatts of coal capacity. Thirdly, banks should agree not to finance any company that plans, builds or provides new fossil fuel mines, power plants or related infrastructure.

Fridays for Future targets Commerzbank because it is the largest German lender to the global coal industry and is listed as one of the 15 biggest international banks in the sector, according to German environment and human rights NGO Urgewald’s Global Coal Exit List. If implemented, the demands on the banking industry would result in considerable financial flows to be diverted, directly affecting 87 percent of global coal power capacity and 89 percent of global coal production, according to Urgewald’s calculations.

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