By Lerato Mutsila and Julia Evans for Daily Maverick, 22 Sep 2023
Aclimate protest outside the Standard Bank headquarters in Rosebank, Johannesburg, reached its third day on Thursday, 21 September, with activists refusing to leave the premises until the bank’s Group CEO Sim Tshabalala addressed them publicly.
The activists – who came from Meadowlands, Fleurhof, Mzimhlope, Bekkersdal, Orange Farm, the Vaal and Soweto – had been camping outside the main entrance of the building since Tuesday, 19 September and were calling for a live debate with the bank and for the bank to stop all investments in fossil fuel projects and redirect the funding to renewable energy.
Standard Bank’s exposure to coal mining, oil, gas and power generation from fossil fuels increased by 22% from 2021 to 2022, with total exposure at R119.4-billion, compared with R97.6-billion the previous year, according to shareholder activist organisation Just Share’s briefing on Standard Bank Group’s climate disclosures in 2022.
As a result, Just Share found that Standard Bank’s exposure to fossil fuels was about 4.5 times higher than its exposure to renewable energy.
The stand-off between protesters and Standard Bank ended with South African Police Service (SAPS) officers and private security removing the activist’s belongings and shepherding them off the premises and on to Baker Street.
Standard Bank issued an eviction notice press release on Thursday afternoon, stating that they had the protesters removed from its premises “following three days of unlawful protest which posed a health and safety risk to staff and customers” and accusing the protesters of vandalising Standard Bank property by defacing art and urinating in open areas. This has been denied by the activists saying they did not urinate and the paint was kids’ paint that could be washed off.
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