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New report FoE France : French Banks, Fossil Banks?

New FoE report slams French banks for sad state climate policies
Dodgy deals
By Les Amis de la Terre | Paris, France, Mar 6 2007

Les Amis de la Terre today releases the report « French banks, Fossil banks? » (French version). the report estimates, for the first time in France, the French banks' indirect greenhouse gas emissions and underlines the lack of credible energy and climate policies. The report relies on the best international practices and points out the obvious lagging behind  by French banks. Les Amis de la Terre provides them with clear recommendations. The report's release is accompanied with an eco-citizen guide : «Environment : How do I choose my bank ?» aimed towards the general public.

The «French banks, Fossil banks ?» report gives grades, on the basis of a strict methodology, to the energy and climate policies of the ten major French banks. It follows the « French banks: save the climate ! » campaign, launched in 2005, which pointed out the impact of French banks' indirect greenhouse gas emissions which are equal to 3,2 times the global emissions of France! Even though banks have major responsibilities with regard to climate, not a single one of the French banks has yet established a risk-reducing policy. Abroad though, several large banks (Bank of America and JPMorganChase – United States, ABN AMRO - Netherlands, HSBC – United Kingdom) have already established much more ambitious policies.

Sébastien Godinot, responsible for the Finance campaign at Les Amis de la Terre, explains : «From the beginning of the climate campaign, banks have developed lending products to encourage retail clients to renovate and insulate housing, the second largest greenhouse gas emitting sector in France. The campaign has been a success, and the banks show how quickly they can react. While today the evidence of the seriousness of climate change is mounting (Stern Report, GIEC, etc.), banks must now go into top gear and pitch in to confront their indirect emissions, produced by the projects and companies they finance. It is time for French banks to have their climate and energy revolution. »

Indeed, the report's results are negative: none of the banks reach even an average grade. Crédit Coopératif and Dexia get an acceptable note, followed by Groupe Banque Populaire. All the others banks are laggards. Société Générale and Crédit Mutuel seem even bored with environmental aspects.

French banks are financing polluting fossil fuel projects ten times more than renewable energies. They all brag about sustainable development, though they are still financing contentious energy projects like the  Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline from the Caspian Sea (Banque Populaire, BNP-Paribas, Crédit Agricole, Dexia, Société Générale). While industries are now subjected to emissions quota, banks take advantage of the lack of  restriction in their financing choices to rake in astronomical profits.

Citizens, as majors economic actors are called to take action toward better banking practices : « The guide «Environment : how do I choose my bank ?», published at the same time as the report, ranks the French banks according to their respect for the environment. Citizens don't know how their money is used when they commit to their bank, though they are aware how their choices can affect society. We will distribute the guide widely and ask customers-citizens either to push for their bank to improve or to switch to an ecologically better bank » explains Déborah Lambert-Perez from Les Amis de la Terre.

The two documents are in French. A summary in English is available on the BankTrack website.


Sébastien Godinot

Les Amis de la Terre / Friends of the Earth France

Tel : 0033 1 48 51 18 92 / 0033 6 68 98 83 41


Les Amis de la Terre Website

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