By Tom Sims
FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Deutsche Bank is not financing a pipeline in Africa that environmental campaigners have said will displace thousands of families and disrupt nature reserves, a person with knowledge of the matter said on Sunday.
Germany’s largest lender has come under pressure to clarify its stance on the financing of the planned $3.5 billion East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP), which would stretch more than 1,400 kilometres from Uganda to Tanzania.
Deutsche has so far not commented on the project despite the pressure increasing ahead of the bank’s annual general meeting on Thursday. The environmental activist group 350.org is organising a series of protests in the coming days.
“Many major banks and insurers have already pulled out of this devastating project. We’re raising the pressure on Deutsche Bank, as one of the only major banks in Europe that has not yet withdrawn their support for EACOP,” 350.org has said ahead of the planned protests.
The French energy giant Total, which is developing the pipeline with China National Offshore Oil Corporation, has said it was taking steps to mitigate the environmental and human impact of the project.
In recent years, Deutsche Bank has marketed itself as a bank that companies can turn to as they transition to a greener future.
“We have placed sustainability at the core of our strategy,” Chief Executive Officer Christian Sewing said last year.
Deutsche Bank has never been involved in the financing of the pipeline, said the person, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Deutsche Bank said in a statement that it doesn’t comment on clients, but that it “supports the transition to a low-carbon economy” and its policies prohibit it from knowingly financing projects that clear primary forests, areas of high conservation value and peatlands.
The campaign called #STOPEACOP https://www.stopeacop.net/home says on its website that the pipeline puts at risk water for millions of people, and will cut through land critical for elephants, lions and chimpanzees.
(Reporting by Tom Sims; Editing by Riham Alkousaa, Maria Sheahan and David Evans)