Security was very tight at the Standard Chartered AGM in London on Friday morning. Shareholders had to wait in queues for up to 30 minutes, were subjected to intrusive searches and airport-style scanning, and the Chairman was forced to announce that the meeting would begin 20 minutes late. Among the attendees were dozens of activists from the UK Climate Choir, authorised to attend as proxy voters. Despite proper paperwork and photo identification, many of these were turned away and prevented from exercising their vote.

Supposedly random extra security body searches, conducted in a separate room, appeared to target journalists, researchers and activists – they were asked to ‘consent’ to a body search, but told their entry would be subject to agreeing. One of these was Avril de Torres (environmental lawyer and Deputy Executive Director at the Philippine Centre for Energy, Ecology and Development), who had travelled to raise issues around the bank’s funding for San Miguel Conglomerate’s coal and gas developments which threaten the ecology and community of the Verde Island Passage. She told us in her interview that she brought it to the bank’s attention at a previous AGM and has even had closed meetings with their sustainability officers, but that nothing much has changed.

Verde Island Passage (VIP) is known as the Amazon of the Oceans due to its rich biodiversity, but the San Miguel Conglomerate (funded by Standard Chartered) is causing degradation of the important marine and coastal ecosystems as well as threatening the livelihoods of Batangas communities in its operation of fossil-gas power plants and increased shipping in the area.

Another Standard Chartered investment under scrutiny is the Mozambique LNG project where resettled communities face human rights violations. LNG extraction invariably increases methane emissions, many times more warming than carbon, and researchers from Justiça Ambiental say this project is expected to increase Mozambique’s domestic emissions by up to 10% per year.

Standard Chartered is possibly second only to HSBC in its involvement in controversy, with accusations of money laundering and currency manipulation. It recently pulled out of a UN Science Based Targets Initiative which (although itself accused of greenwashing) is supposed to scrutinise and validate companies which adhere to the IPCC Paris Agreement targets.

The UK Climate Choir, founded in Bristol, has grown over the past 18 months into a movement of more than a dozen choirs with hundreds of singers across the UK. They sometimes come together in spectacular and peaceful protest at venues such as airports, courts and even Parliament.