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Standard Chartered fails to protect forests

Posted by Jamie Woolley - 9th August 2017

Some bad news, I’m afraid – Standard Chartered’s new palm oil policy is out and it fails to protect forests.

They’ve updated their commitments on lending money to palm oil companies. But there are so many loopholes, it won’t stop their customers tearing down forests in Indonesia and elsewhere.

The worst thing about it? Standard Chartered don’t expect palm oil companies to explain how they’ll safeguard forests until the end of next year. With forest fires burning in Indonesia right now – fuelled by reckless palm oil companies – that’s far too long to wait.

Standard Chartered received thousands of emails and phone calls explaining what they needed to do. But instead of becoming sustainability leaders, they’ve given their customers the green light to continue destroying forests.

Other problems with the policy include:

  • no requirements for palm oil traders to explain how they’ll cut off suppliers involved in deforestation;
  • no commitment on applying their policy to parent companies that own palm oil subsidiaries, which means the palm oil arm could destroy forests and the parent wouldn’t be held to account;
  • no requirement for palm oil clients to agree to being named, which would help us and other palm oil watchers see how well Standard Chartered are sticking to their promises.

Earlier this year, HSBC published a policy that covered all of these points, and set a tight deadline (which has already been and gone) for palm oil companies to publish their own policies.

Standard Chartered have wasted this opportunity to set new standards for banks funding palm oil companies, but that won’t stop us. We’ll gather any evidence of how Standard Chartered’s customers are devastating Indonesia’s forests and shame the bank into making their policies better.

For now, Standard Chartered have blundered, big time.

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