By: Les Amis de la Terre
Caroline Prak, Les Amis de la Terre, +33 1 48 51 32 22 / +33 6 86 41 53 43
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BNP Paribas is holding its annual general shareholders’ meeting
(AGM) today in Paris. Les Amis de la Terre (Friends of the Earth France)
is challenging the bank’s top executives, who present BNP Paribas as a
“responsible bank”, on its polluting investments in the coal industry.
Les Amis de la Terre calls on BNP Paribas to stop its dodgy investments
with disastrous environmental and social impacts, particularly in
“mountaintop removal” (MTR), an extreme form of surface coal mining
taking place in the United States. This technique will soon be included
in a sectoral policy by Crédit Agricole.
After Société Générale and Crédit Agricole last year, Les Amis de la Terre is challenging this year BNP Paribas on its investments in the coal industry at its AGM today in Paris. According to the report “Bankrolling Climate Change” (1), published end of 2011 by BankTrack, the international network of which Les Amis de la Terre is a member, BNP Paribas ranks number one as top climate killer French bank in the world. Yann Louvel, climate and energy campaign coordinator for BankTrack, explains: “Between 2005 and 2010, BNP Paribas invested more than 10 billion euros in the coal industry, more than the combined amounts invested by Société Générale and Crédit Agricole during the same period. BNP Paribas is then the eighth climate killer bank in the world and the first French one in the “top 20 climate killer banks” ranking presented in the report”.
As last year, les Amis de la Terre is not alone in this AGM. Paul Corbit Brown, campaigner for the US NGO « Keeper of the Mountain » is coming to denounce the impacts of Mountaintop Removal (MTR) in the United States. MTR is an extreme form of coal mining which destroys with explosives up to 300 meters of the top of the Appalachians in several US states, to reach the coal seams underneath. Paul Corbit Brown comments on these impacts: "There is nothing ethical about mountaintop removal. It permanently destroys air, water, soil, communities and people's health. It has brought nothing but poverty and sickness to the communities in my home state."
Malika Peyraut, Les Amis de la Terre campaigner, denounces: “BNP Paribas is involved in the funding of several companies practicing MTR. It participated these past few years to the issuance or exchange of bonds from ArcelorMittal and Arch Coal, worth hundreds of million euros. It also contributed to several loans to Mechel Oao and Metinvest for a total of several billion US$. BNP Paribas needs to stop these banking activities by adopting a sectoral policy excluding this type of activity. Crédit Agricole is already preparing such a policy: BNP Paribas also needs to act now!”.
Yann Louvel concludes: “Beyond MTR, BNP Paribas must facilitate the energy transition and replace its investments in fossil fuels with investments in energy efficiency and renewables. To track this evolution, we ask BNP Paribas to publish annually the ratio of its investments between those two sectors as well as the calculation and reduction of its financed emissions. Such a comparison would be way more useful than the sole promotion of the renewables projects it finances, which looks like pure greenwash. Rather than praising itself as a “responsible bank” by funding research projects on climate change, it is time BNP Paribas reduces its own contribution to climate change by immediately ending its investments in the sectors wrecking havoc on the climate, such as coal.”
(1) The report is available on this page.
*** Immediate reaction following the AGM ***
As an answer to Les Amis de la Terre question, Baudoin Prot, president of BNP Paribas group, just announced the imminent publication of a sectoral policy for the mining sector. This policy would include criteria dealing with "mountaintop removal", the form of coal mining Paul Corbit Brown came to denounce today. Whether this is good news will depend on the criteria included in this policy, resulting in no less than a complete exclusion of this sector.
Even so, BNP Paribas will still have to reduce its overall investments in the coal industry, publish the ratio of its financing in the fossil fuels vs renewables sectors and calculate and reduce its financed emissions. Les Amis de la Terre will continue to pressure them on these goals.