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For Immediate Release

Contact

Travis Nichols, travis@stand.earth
Ada Recinos, ada@amazonwatch.org
Pendle Marshall-Hallmark, pendle@amazonwatch.org

Press Release

Citigroup AGM: Bank Called Out for Amazon Oil Financing

Report shows bank’s role in funding oil companies with ties to corruption, rights violations, pollution, and deforestation in the Amazon. Indigenous leaders, alongside human rights and environmental campaigners, calling for Citigroup to exit Amazon oil and gas.
WASHINGTON -

Following Earth Day and on the day of Citigroup’s AGM, activists supporting an Amazon Watch and Stand.earth led campaign to end Amazon drilling revealed a banner reading “Citi: Stop Destroying the Amazon,” calling out Citi for its role as the top financier in the world of oil activity in the Amazon. Environmental campaigners at Stand.earth and Amazon Watch are also spotlighting an “Investor Risk Alert” highlighting the bank’s exposure and central role in providing billions in financing and investments to oil and gas companies in the Amazon. Indigenous leaders and federations directly impacted by oil drilling are calling on Citigroup to commit to exit Amazon oil and gas.

Citigroup’s investments and financing in Amazonian oil are tied to corruption, pollution, deforestation, and Indigenous rights violations – incompatible with its climate forward image. Without a clear commitment to end its role as a major driver of the fossil fuel industry in the Amazon, Citigroup's climate promises remain inadequate.

Citi’s Annual General Meeting was met with protesters today urging Citigroup to release plans winding down its financing of the fossil fuel industry and to support two different shareholder proposals calling for the bank to cease its support for fossil fuel expansion and to produce a report evaluating its respect or lack thereof for Indigenous Peoples' right to Free, Prior, and Informed Consent. 12.8% of shareholders voted for Citi to cease its support for fossil fuel expansion, and 34% voted in favor of the Indigenous Rights resolution. While not yet in the majority, these votes represent significant amounts of investment capital and signal a growing push from shareholders for Citi to end fossil fuel expansion and recognize Indigenous rights.

The end to fossil fuel financing is being echoed by climate activists. Last week, protesters with Extinction Rebellion NYC blockaded Citigroup’s headquarters for hours resulting in at least 19 arrests, New York Communities for Change activists confronted a Citigroup executive at the Reuters Responsible Business USA conference over the bank’s continued support of oil and gas in the Amazon, and just yesterday students at Yale University confronted outgoing Citigroup board member Ernesto Zedillo, a professor at the school, about his role in enabling fossil fuel financing at Citi.

In 2021, Citigroup released an updated energy policy that rules out financing for oil and gas in the Arctic, yet the bank has made no commitments related to its financing of the oil industry in the Amazon. In a global declaration by Indigenous federations and allies, banks are being called to end financing of commodities like oil that are responsible for fragmenting and polluting the Amazon. Leadership on this issue is coming from European banks – including ING, Credit-Suisse, Natixis, Societe Generale, BNP Paribas, and Intesa – all of whom have made commitments to end financing for oil trade in Ecuador and beyond. This is consistent with international calls for protecting 80% of the Amazon by 2025 – a critical threshold to meet in order to prevent the biome from unraveling. Not a single U.S. bank has made any such commitments.

“Oil drilling in our Amazon has brought contamination, disease, deforestation, destruction of our cultures, and the colonization of our territories. It is an existential threat for us and violates our fundamental rights as Indigenous peoples. We are calling for an end to all new extraction on our lands, and as our ancestors and science now affirm, we must keep fossil fuels in the ground.” – Nemo Andy Guiquita, a Waorani Indigenous leader and Women and Health Coordinator for the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon (CONFENIAE)

With the Amazon rainforest at the tipping point of ecological collapse, Citigroup's lack of an exclusion policy and exit strategy on Amazon oil and gas presents a significant reputational risk. Its financing has been instrumental in the build-out of oil drilling and infrastructure in critical rainforest areas and Indigenous territories. Its investments have long-term impacts and have supported the expansion of oil production, in many cases despite strong opposition from Indigenous communities. Citigroup is one of the top foreign banks financing state-owned oil companies operating in the Amazon. Its clients include Petrobras in Brazil, EcoPetrol in Colombia, PetroAmazonas/Petroecuador in Ecuador, and PetroPeru in Peru.

“The Amazon is the last place on the planet where oil drilling should be expanding, so Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser has a critical opportunity before her. Will she show a new kind of leadership and commit to aligning bank policy with what the world needs and what generations of Indigenous peoples and concerned citizens are calling for, or will she allow for business as usual and continued degradation of the Amazon?” said Tyson Miller, Amazon Campaigns Director at Stand.earth.

Pendle Marshall-Hallmark, Climate and Finance Campaigner at Amazon Watch said, “Activists are fed up with Citi's greenwashing. It can't call itself a climate leader while pouring billions into oil and gas exploitation anywhere, let alone on Indigenous territories in the Amazon. Citi's fossil fuel financing is razing the rainforest, spewing oil into local water sources, and destroying our climate. It has to stop now.”

Citigroup is one of the only U.S. banks that has been providing funding to PetroEcuador (formerly PetroAmazonas), the state oil company of Ecuador, and the country is now planning to double oil production. Many of those expansion projects will open up pristine and roadless Amazon rainforest and titled territories of Indigenous peoples, who have not provided their consent, a right recently upheld by the country’s Constitutional Court. Despite averaging two oil spills per week, the country is currently expanding drilling in protected areas such as Yasuní National Park, building roads in intact forests, and in areas near Indigenous peoples living in voluntary isolation. Oil concessions that span approximately 7.5 million acres (3 million hectares) of rainforests are slated to be auctioned off this year.

In Peru, Citigroup is participating in a 10-year, 1.3 billion USD syndicated loan to the state-owned oil company PetroPeru, which is seeking to expand oil operations within the North Peruvian Amazon where the Indigenous Achuar and Wampis peoples live and are strongly opposed to any kind of oil drilling within their ancestral territory.

"Our collective fight to defend our lands and prevent oil drilling is not just a fight to protect our own communities but to protect the entire planet from the climate crisis we all face. The banks that finance the extraction and expansion of oil in the Amazon are complicit in genocide against indigenous peoples and in the perpetuation of a climate crisis that is an existential threat to all of us. All banks, including Citigroup, must commit to ending financing for the exploitation of fossil fuels in the Amazon and in the world in general.," says Nelton Yankur, President of the Federation of the Achuar Nationality of Peru.

At the end of March, the Exit Amazon Oil and Gas campaign provided a case study on the impact of oil and gas extraction in the Amazon Biome for the annual Banking on Climate Chaos report released by a coalition of top international environmental groups. The report revealed how U.S. banks are among the world's major drivers of climate chaos. The report, the most comprehensive analysis of fossil fuel banking to date, documents how U.S. banks such as Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase continue to fuel climate destruction, despite their many public pledges to the contrary. Crucially, the 13th annual report shows how most of the banks’ biggest fossil fuel clients are actively expanding new fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure projects.

About Exit Amazon Oil and Gas

The Exit Amazon Oil and Gas campaign, led by Amazon Watch, and Stand.earth in collaboration with the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon (CONFENIAE) and the Coordinating Body of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA), is calling on banks to commit to exclude financing for oil and gas in the Amazon biome, starting with ending its expansion.

The campaign follows research completed by Stand.earth and Amazon Watch that exposes links between leading banks in the Global North and the Amazon oil and gas trade:

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Stand.earth (formerly ForestEthics) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with offices in Canada and the United States that is known for its groundbreaking research and successful corporate and citizens engagement campaigns to create new policies and industry standards in protecting forests, advocating the rights of indigenous peoples, and protecting the climate. Visit us at www.stand.earth and follow us on Twitter @standearth.

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