The Guardian today reported that campaigners have sent a letter to the banks that make up the signatories for the Equator Principles, a set of standards for environmental and social impact for project finance, stating that banks routinely ignore them and continue to provide finance to some of the most damaging projects. To which the banks collectively responded by saying “Aargh me hearties, the Principles be more what you’d call guidelines than actual rules“.
A few years ago I wrote a short case study on BP’s Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (pronounced Chey-han) pipeline, which was financed through a $1.6billion loan from 15 banks including 10 signatories to the Equator Principles. The pipeline is the second longest in the world and is capable of pumping a millions barrels a day from Baku on the Azerbaijani coast of the Black Sea to the Turkish port of Ceyhan on the Mediterranean. An independent report by a group of international NGOs found that the pipeline had more than 137 breaches of the Equator Principles including 90 breaches of the World Bank’s standards for social and environmental impact. This is just one of MANY projects that are financed every year by banks that pay absolutely no attention whatsoever to the Principles, they are simply used to boost corporate social responsibility reports.