Standard Chartered Mozambique gas emissions to outstrip those of UK

By David Whitehouse

Posted on Friday, 29 April 2022 06:00
People pass by the logo of Standard Chartered plc at the SIBOS banking and financial conference in Toronto, Ontario, Canada October 19, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Helgren

UK banking group Standard Chartered in 2021 funded fossil fuel expansion projects that will emit five times the entire UK’s annual carbon emissions across the project lifetimes, led by LNG development in Mozambique, a new report claims.

The Market Forces climate campaign group calculates that the Rovuma basin project in northern Mozambique will emit 982 million tonnes of CO2 over its lifetime, far more than any of the other projects being funded by Standard Chartered. That makes up 42% of the total emissions of 2.3 billion tonnes from projects which the bank funded in 2021.

The whole of the UK, in contrast, emitted 463 million tonnes of CO2 in 2018 – less than half of the Rovuma project alone. Furthermore, the bank has not ruled out funding the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP), which would be the longest heated oil pipeline in the world.

“The bank’s ongoing heavy financing of fossil fuel expansion, enabled by its inadequate policy settings, undermines the Paris Agreement’s goals and the transition to net zero emissions,” Market Forces says. “Despite committing to the goal of net zero emissions by 2050, Standard Chartered is aligning its financing with the failure of this goal.”

The bank’s annual general meeting takes place on 4 May. Market Forces and the Friends Provident Foundation have filed a shareholder resolution calling for Standard Chartered to align its financing with the goal of net zero by 2050.

  • The UK banking group said in April that it is planning to exit five African markets, Angola, Cameroon, Gambia, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe.
  • Messages to Standard Chartered seeking comment on the Market Forces report and the shareholder resolution went unanswered.
  • The bank says it will achieve net zero carbon emissions from its operations by 2030, and in its financing by 2050.

Transition fuel?

Technological advances have made it possible to measure lifecycle emissions from gas more accurately via satellite and aerial tools. Scientists such as Robert Howarth at Cornell University in the US have shown that although gas emits less carbon dioxide at combustion than coal, its upstream greenhouse gas emissions damage the environment as it releases methane throughout its lifecycle.

LNG counts as a fossil fuel. Turning gas into a liquid for shipping requires a large amount of gas to be burned, which greatly increases emissions, Howarth argues. South African chemicals giant Sasol in April dropped plans to import natural gas from Rovuma by pipeline. It will take tanker deliveries of LNG from offshore Mozambique instead.

Seeing gas as a valid transition fuel is a hard sell, says Saliem Fakir, executive director of the Africa Climate Foundation (ACF) in Cape Town. “The idea that gas is less carbon intensive than fossil fuels is becoming increasingly a misnomer.”

  • In many countries in southern Africa, integrated hydro power projects combined with renewable energy have the potential to meet demand, Fakir says.
  • “There is very little need for gas. Gas is a transition fuel by default, not a transition fuel by intent.”

Bottom line

Standard Chartered faces tough questions at its AGM over its commitment to Rovuma and natural gas.

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