Lucie Pinson, Private finance campaigner, Les Amis de la Terre/Friends of the Earth France, +33 9 72 43 92 62 firstname.lastname@example.org
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In less than seven months' time, Paris will host the twenty-first United Nations conference on climate change. The banks, as major economic players, are expected at the meeting. By December this year, they will be judged on what they have done - or not done - to prevent global warming and its consequences for the people of this planet. Thus, as the BNP Paribas annual general meeting takes place today in Paris, Friends of the Earth France, BankTrack and a variety of political, scientific and civil society figures are calling on the bank to sign the Paris Pledge and bring an end to its huge support for the coal industry, the biggest emitter of CO2.
BNP Paribas alone accounts for half of the total support - now totalling more than 30 billion euros - provided by French banks to the coal industry between 2005 and April 2014. Top French coal bank, BNP Paribas is also ranked among the top ten international banks in terms of support for the coal industry. Moreover, according to a briefing published today by Friends of the Earth France and BankTrack, BNP Paribas' adoption in 2011 of a sectoral policy aimed at controlling the impacts of the bank's activities in the coal power sector has not been able to prevent the rising trend in coal finance seen at BNP Paribas in 2012 and 2013.
Lucie Pinson, Private finance campaigner for Friends of the Earth France, commented:
"It's time for BNP to change track and become part of the solution rather than the problem. A few weeks ago BNP Paribas opted not to participate in the mining projects located in Australia's Galilee Basin. This was a good move, but no matter where you are in the world, and with the price of renewable energy constantly falling, it's no longer possible to accept the environmental and social impacts of coal. That's why we're calling on the bank to sign the Paris Pledge and to commit before the Paris COP to end its support for the coal industry, for the benefit of the climate and public health. This call is backed today by numerous political, scientific and civil society figures in an advert published today in Le Monde."
In the company of Maha Mirza, an activist from Bangladesh, the groups are also calling on BNP Paribas during its AGM to immediately commit to not financing the Rampal coal-fired power plant project.
Yann Louvel, Climate and Energy coordinator for BankTrack, said:
"The billions of euros of support extended to the coal industry every year by BNP Paribas end up in projects that will pump out millions of tons of CO2 every year for decades, destroying pristine environments and threatening the survival of local populations. The Rampal project in Bangladesh, still only in the development stage, is one such case. It threatens the UNESCO-protected Sunderbans, the world's largest mangrove forest, as well as local communities, yet the project promoters are approaching even the big international banks for financing.
"Today we're also publishing the summary of a new study that shows the Rampal project contravenes the Equator Principles, a voluntary agreement signed up to by 80 global financial institutions. It's why we're calling on BNP Paribas, which has provided funding in the past to NTPC, one of the project promoters, to take the lead and commit publicly to not financing Rampal, as it did recently with the Galilee Basin projects."
Along with representatives from other communities directly affected by coal in South Africa and the US, Friends of the Earth France will also be appealing to Crédit Agricole, Société Générale and BPCE at their forthcoming AGMs as well as on the 'Climate Finance Day' to not miss the opportunity to prove their commitment to fighting climate change.
In the view of Friends of the Earth France and BankTrack, such commitments need to be measured concretely by the banks signing the Paris Pledge and an end to their coal support. To ensure that the banks really do turn the page on coal and enter fully into the twenty-first century, Friends of the Earth France is appealing to the banks' clients to call on the institutions to take the necessary steps before the Paris climate summit in November.
Notes for Editors:
According to the BankTrack report 'Banking on Coal 2014', published in October 2014.
The new briefing is available online on this page.
Today's advert in Le Monde is available on this page.
The summary of this new study is available in English on this page. The full study will be available shortly.
See the website jechangedebanque.eu