Support for climate and environmental offenders: our countermotion

Re Agenda Item 2

The Association of Ethical Shareholders Germany proposes that ratification of the acts of manage-ment of the Management Board be refused.


The Management Board of Deutsche Bank has failed to adequately meet its responsibility to implement more effective measures to tackle climate change and satisfy its human rights due diligence It is not enough to merely formally commit to the objectives of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the UN Global Compact.

Disregard for UN principles for human rights due diligence

Deutsche Bank continues to fail to fully apply the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) in its business conduct. Deutsche Bank does not sufficiently document how or whether human rights risks are identified, assessed and minimized. When compared to Germany’s 20 largest companies, Deutsche Bank takes a pitiful last place. This is the conclusion of a recent study by the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre and the ZHAW School of Management and Law. The executive summary of the study can be found here:

Climate targets must be based on the Paris Agreement on Climate Change

If every company had a record on the climate like Deutsche Bank’s, global temperatures would rise by 2.8 degrees Celsius by 2050. A particularly bitter truth is that even if Deutsche Bank were to achieve its cli-mate targets, this would change nothing. A report published at the end of 2019 by the consulting firm Right: highlights this.

Support for climate offenders

In the past year, Deutsche Bank helped the Indian industrial conglomerate Adani to place two bonds. Adani is active in fields such as electricity, ports and resources. In Australia, the company exploits the con-troversial Carmichael coal mine. Deutsche Bank ruled out supporting it directly years ago. The Bank claims that the current bonds are ringfenced from using the funds for the mine. Yet this ignores the fact that funds provided to one division free up funds for other areas. Moreover, Adani has also faced criticism in India for building coal-fired power plants and ports and for its poor environmental record. The business illustrates the limits of Deutsche Bank’s policy on coal, which fails to rule out financing for coal companies.

Dam breaches at Mariana and Brumadinho: business dealings with mining companies

By virtue of its business dealings with and via equity interests in the mining companies Vale and BHP Billiton, Deutsche Bank breaches its human rights due diligence. In the period from 2010 to 2017, Deutsche Bank provided the Brazilian Vale €701 million and the Anglo-Australian BHP Billiton €622 million in loans and bonds. Deutsche Bank also holds shares in both entities.

Following the breach of the Mariana dam in Brazil on 5 November 2015, 19 people lost their lives and a 680 km stretch of the river was contaminated. More than two million people had their access to drinking water cut off and more than 1,500 small fishermen and women have lost their livelihoods because the river is clinically dead. In the wake of the Mariana dam breach, dozens of children have been found to carry high traces of arsenic in their bodies. The dam of the retention basin for the company Samarco is owned 50%/50% by the Brazilian Vale and the Australian BHP Billiton.

The collapse of the Brumadinho dam in the Brazilian state Minas Gerais on 25 January 2019 claimed 270 lives. Not far from the small town of Brumadinho, the dam of an ore slurry retention basin at the Córrego do Feijão mine collapsed. Vale stated that the basin had held 11.7 million cubic meters of ore slurry. It flooded an entire valley.

Illegal clearing and land grabs in Amazonia: loans for meat producer JBS

Deutsche Bank holds shares in and extends loans to meat producers involved in the illegal clearing and seizure of land in Amazonia. For instance, Deutsche Bank holds US$11 million in the world’s largest meat producer JBS (as of April 2019) and granted loan tranches to it in the amount of US$56.7 million. JBS is directly and indirectly responsible for a long history of environmental destruction. On top of that, it has a record of grave violations of labor law. The Ministry of Labor has repeatedly uncovered cases of forced la-bor under conditions resembling the enslavement of workers throughout JBS’s production chain.

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