24 May 2017 - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Karen Hinton at +1.703.798.3109
Quito, Ecuador – On the basis of the anti-Chevron campaign, several Swiss organizations have launched a call to the Swiss National Bank (BNS) to request that it intervene in the Annual General Assembly of the Chevron Corporation in the United States on May 31st, 2017 to vote in favor of climate, human rights, and environmental resolutions. In two resolutions, the Ecuadorian case is also mentioned which, according to the shareholder initiators, has been mismanaged. Instead of achieving a quick, fair and global solution for the affected communities, the case has taken a long time and generated enormous costs.
The call comes from various ranges of organizations that fight for human rights, labor rights, environmental rights, food sovereignty, the rights of indigenous peoples, the responsibility of transnational corporations, the right to health, etc. These include large platforms such as the Climate Alliance and Medicus Mundi. We hope that this collaboration can forward the global struggle to fight climate warming and corporate impunity.
The call is reproduced below.
Call To the Swiss National Bank for the Protection of Climate and Human Rights
We, the undersigned organizations and institutions of civil society, call upon the Swiss National Bank (SNB) to support – through its voting rights at the Annual Meeting of Chevron on May 31, 2017 Chevron in the United States – the stockholders' proposals in the perspective of mitigating climate change and for the respect for human and environmental rights.
A recent report of the "Artisans de la Transition" stressed the importance of investments in the fossil fuel industry in the US-equity portfolio of the SNB regarding companies quoted on the stock exchange in the United States. However, these investments are not compatible with SNB's investment guidelines concerning environmental and human rights violations nor with the Paris Climate Agreement signed by Switzerland. In this portfolio, Chevron represents an important percentage of shares.
Chevron Corporation is well known in Switzerland for its appalling record regarding environmental and human rights violations related to the oil operations of Texaco (bought by Chevron) in the Ecuadorian Amazon, one of the most important environmental contaminations in the world. After 50 years of pollution and 23 years of legal proceeding and despite having been sentenced to pay US$9.5 billion in repair and mitigation costs to compensate for the damages affecting livelihoods and the health of the inhabitants, the UDAPT – Union of people affected by the oil operations of Texaco (now Chevron), representing 30,000 peasants and natives, still has to fight, via lawsuits in several countries, in order to get Chevron to enforce the judgment and pay-up. Meanwhile, the toxics continue to spread and impact the ecosystems of the Amazonian forest, which plays a central role in the fight against climate change.
In the margins of the Davos World Economic Forum (WEF), Chevron received twice (in 2006 and 2015) the Public Eye award of the Declaration of Berne (today Public Eye) and Greenpeace. This shaming award highlights Chevron as being the most irresponsible corporations as far as environmental and human rights are concerned. In Geneva, the Ecuadorian case is regularly referred to as emblematic example within the Intergovernmental Working Group on TNC's and Human Rights at the Human Right Council of the United Nations as well as in the International Campaign against Corporate Impunity, representing more than 200 organizations of the civil society. Moreover in 2016, on the occasion of the International Anti-Chevron Day, several organizations have established a global map of the conflicts related to Chevron.
On its proposals for the Annual Meeting of the SNB the 28th April 2017, the shareholder group AAA+ requests that the SNB should comply with its ethical criteria concerning investments, in particular regarding human and environmental rights.
Regarding climate change, at the initiative of the Climate Alliance, 135 Swiss personalities have sent an appeal to the board of the SNB. They call upon the bank to determine and publish the CO2 emission level that might be attributed to its portfolio and to develop an exit scenario leading to the exclusion of investments in companies owning the largest fossil fuel reserves, including Chevron. However, to achieve these goals, more information on the corporate activities and strategies is desperately needed.
For several years, Chevron shareholder groups have been demanding greater transparency concerning the decisions of Chevron. However, in its voting recommendations for the Annual Meeting on May 31st, 2017, the board recommends to vote against several proposals aiming a better assessment of the boards' decisions and strategies, especially concerning matters of environment, climate and governance.
Alliance climatique - Switzerland, AAA+ (Assemblée des actionnaires actifs positifs), Amnesty International-Switzerland, ASK (Groupe de travail Suisse-Colombie), Attac - Switzerland, CADTM - Switzerland, CSSR-Centrale sanitaire suisse romande, CETIM (Europe-Third World Center), Fossil Free Switzerland, Grands-parents pour le climat - Switzerland, Greenpeace - Switzerland, Comundo, World March of Women-Switzerland, Medicus Mundi - Switzerland, Multiwatch, STP (Society for Threatened Peoples) - Switzerland, Solifonds, Stop TiSA - Switzerland, Uniterre.