Environmentalists Urge Deutsche Bank to Stop Financing Fossil Fuel Companies

Climate activists from South America and Africa traveled to Deutsche Bank’s Frankfurt headquarters the last week in June, calling for an end to the investment bank’s financing of fossil fuel companies.

Leaders of indigenous Peruvians and members of the environmental group Amazon Watch met with Deutsche sustainability staff to demand the firm stop working with Peruvian state oil company Petroperu. The activists say the company is endangering wildlife and waterways in the Amazon.

Shapiom Noningo Sesen, an indigenous leader of the Wampis Nation, said that activists would pressure the bank until it drops Petroperu, claiming that locals couldn't eat the fish in their rivers because the waters are so polluted, and that toxins were ending up in their blood.

“These companies are just playing with our lives, our culture, and our history," he said through an interpreter.

Also, members of the Rise Up movement in Africa met with Deutsche Bank CEO Christian Sewing, urging him to distance the bank from an oil pipeline plan in Africa.

Though the bank says that sustainability is at the center of its business, environmentalists question the claim. Deutsche Bank's fund unit DWS is facing allegations of so-called "greenwashing" for allegedly misleading investors about the sustainability of its investments. DWS has denied the allegations, according to Reuters.

"We are committed to reducing our own CO2 emissions and in particular those of our loan portfolio to net zero by 2050," it told Reuters.

Deutsche is a lead bank for a $1.3 billion loan to Petroperu. It was also instrumental in talks with creditors about extending a deadline for the energy firm’s production of its 2021 audited financial statements. With the missed deadline, credit agencies downgraded the firm to junk status, causing bonds to fall.

Ricardo Perez, an Amazon Watch official, told Reuters he would also pressure other banks to stop funding Petroperu, though the focus now is on Deutsche Bank. It "has invested in the biggest driver of new oil production in the Amazon for the next decade,” said Perez.