By: Les Amis de la Terre
Caroline Prak, FoE France, +33 1 48 51 18 96 / +33 6 86 41 53 43
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With 13.5 billion euro investments in the nuclear industry between 2000 and 2009, BNP Paribas is the n°1 nuclear bank in the world. BNP Paribas just published its new policy on the financing of nuclear power plants, subjecting its loans to nuclear power projects to specific conditions.
BNP Paribas recently also announced its participation in the financing of the Angra 3 nuclear power plant in Brazil. Friends of the Earth France would like to remind BNP Paribas that nuclear energy cannot be considered in any way as a solution to climate change. FoE France also points out the numerous flaws of BNP Paribas' policy.
The new policy on the financing of new nuclear power plants of BNP Paribas is presented as an integral part of its "commitment to sustainable development". But the continuous support of BNP Paribas to the atomic industry is in stark contrast with the most elementary principles of sustainable development and respect for the communities.
BNP Paribas' new policy suffers from many flaws. For example, none of its prerequisite requirements include the guaranteed independence of the host country regulatory body, the inclusion of elements ensuring the effective implementation of waste management, the preparation of decommissioning plans, or effective measures to protect workers' health.
Furthermore, this policy only covers a portion of the nuclear industry - power plants -, and does not apply to investment or asset management activities, while the issuing of shares and bonds includes more than 50% of the nuclear sector financing.
These flaws are clearly illustrated by the recent announcement by BNP Paribas of its participation in the financing of the nuclear power plant Angra 3 in Brazil, this in a joint venture with Société Générale, Crédit Agricole and CIC and the Spanish banks BBVA and Santander. Many NGOs, including BankTrack and FoE France, have been warning these banks for months on the dangers of this project. These include the use of obsolete technology and a neglected analysis on safety and accidents prevention. Also, one can strongly put the independency of the CNEN (Brazilian regulatory body) into question, due to the inbuilt conflict of interest.
Numerous problems also arise for the Jaitapur project in India, which is now considered for financing by BNP Paribas and other French and European banks.
As Juliette Renaud, the financial actors' responsibility campaigner of FOE France, stated: "This new policy does not address neither the consent nor even the consultation of local communities, which will nonetheless be the first affected and which mobilisation can be severely and violently repressed, as happened recently in India on the Jaitapur project".
Contrary to what BNP Paribas states, the nuclear sector is becoming less and less profitable, so much so that it is beginning to lose ground. Today, it contributes to only 13% of electricity production worldwide, which is less than 2.5% of the final consumption demand in the world (less than 14% in France).
However, as Marie-Christine Gamberini, the nuclear and energy campaign responsible for FoE France, reminds us: "As we approach the 25th anniversary of the Tchernobyl catastrophe, the most important brake to the development of the nuclear technology should be its intrinsic dangers, worsened by its vulnerability to extreme climate events. The privatisation of the energy sector and the growing use of subcontracting continue to increase the risks of catastrophes, even in France."
These are also reason for FoE France to demand the immediate closure of the oldest and less reliable French reactors, the end of electronuclear in one or two five-year election periods, and the end of the selling of French nuclear power plants abroad (1).
Juliette Renaud concludes: "To cope with current environmental and social
issues, banks like BNP Paribas should adopt a comprehensive sectoral policy on
the energy sector, including sub-sections for every domain (nuclear, coal, oil,
agrofuels, etc.) instead of separating the sectors as they now do. This would
guarantee a better coherence and would avoid leaving some key energy sectors
uncovered." Private banks have indeed a major role to play in the
reorientation of industrial activities towards a low carbon economy, with no
radioactivity, and more respectful to people and their environment.
(1) For more details, please download FoE France's position on electronuclear (only in French): http://www.amisdelaterre.org/IMG/pdf/AT_position_electronucleaire_Mai08.pdf