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47 billion euros in fossil fuels: the major French banks pinned down by a report


The major French banks are the first at European level to finance fossil fuels, despite commitments to carbon neutrality. This is what several NGOs denounce on the occasion of the publication of a report on Wednesday.

“Banking on Climate Chaos”: that’s the name of the 13th edition of the report published this Wednesday by seven NGOs, Rainforest Action Network, BankTrack, Indigenous Environmental Network, Oil Change International, Reclaim Finance, and Sierra Club. These associations have calculated the amount of support for 60 largest global banks companies producing gas, oil and coal by compiling loans, but also issues of shares and bonds.

This report shows that France is the leading European funder of fossil fuels. The six French banks represented in the ranking (BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole, Société Générale, BPCE, La Banque Postale and Crédit Mutuel) thus allocated some $47 billion from companies linked to fossil fuels last year.

The amount is much lower than that estimated by the associations for the year 2020, which was approximately $88 billion, is nearly double.If French financial flows fall in 2021, nothing indicates that this trend will be confirmed, moderates, however, Louis-Maxence Delaporte, campaign manager at Reclaim Finance._ Indeed, from January 2022, French banks have been involved in several large-scale financial operations for the benefit of BP, Total and Saudi Aramco, leaders oil and gas expansion_”.

Reclaim Finance, headquartered in Paris, notes that French banks have allocated more than 350 billion dollars to fossil fuels between 2016 and 2021, despite the ecological emergency. 87% of this capital comes from just 3 banks: BNP Paribas, Société Générale and Crédit Agricole, underlines the association.

La Banque Postale stands out

However, the report makes a distinction in French banks. If BNP Paribas, Société Générale and Crédit Agricole are at the top of the largest French financiers, La Banque Postale and Crédit Mutuel are considered as “leaders leading by example” in the exclusion of fossil fuels. La Banque Postale has set “the bar high”, according to the report, by publishing in 2021 a commitment to end the financing of all companies that exploit oil and gas, and to leave the sector by 2030.

The six French banks have also all taken in 2021 a commitment to carbon neutrality by 2050. But since the adoption of this agreement, “we do not see a structural decline in financing: we cannot acknowledge the fact that there is a change in strategy on the part of the banks“, comments Louis-Maxence Delaporte.

For its part, the French Banking Federation denounces figures “whimsical on the part of the associations and ensures that it “there is no addiction to hydrocarbons on the part of French banks“.

She rejects the logic of exclusion”all-round” companies linked to fossil fuels and instead advocates supporting citizens and companies towards a lower carbon economy. “French banks must finance the entire economy which today is carbon-intensive“, she assures, adding that the banks also finance “massively renewable energies“.

US banks lead in financing

At the global level, the report of the seven NGOs estimates the amount of funding to $742 billion in 2021, i.e. 1% less than in 2020 but 2.5% more than in 2016.

As the report points out, global fossil fuel financing remains dominated by four American banks – JPMorgan Chase, Citi, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America – which together account for a quarter of all fossil fuel financing identified over the past six years.

In conclusion of the report, the NGOs call on the banks to cease all financing for companies in the fossil fuel sector, within a period compatible with the objective of a 1.5°C increase in temperatures, set by the Paris Agreements. “Time is running out: the expansion of fossil fuels must stop immediately. Every __dollar the banks invest in new fossil energy projects and the companies that support them is incompatible with climate stability and with their security“, concludes the report.

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