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Banks are coming under pressure for financing the nuclear power sector, with a group of NGOs launching a website which names the top 10 "nuclear banks".
Under the banner "nuclear banks, no thanks!", the site lists information on 867 transactions involving 124 banks. BNP Paribas provided the most financing to the nuclear industry from 2000 to 2009, worth EUR13.5 billion ($16.5 billion), according to research carried out by consultancy Profundo for the NGOs. The banks on its top 10 list provided a combined EUR92 billion.
The NGOs involved in the campaign, including BankTrack, Greenpeace International and Urgewald in Germany, take a staunchly anti-nuclear position. "Too many well-known banks that otherwise have taken laudable steps towards sustainability are still investing heavily in the nuclear industry, putting the world on the wrong energy track," said BankTrack coordinator Johan Frijns. "Sustainable banking and financing nuclear energy are simple incompatible."
A spokeswoman for HSBC, which according to Profundo has provided EUR2.6 billion in funding to the nuclear power sector and placed eighth on the list, noted that the bank has policies on the energy sector, and mining and metals, which relate to nuclear power and uranium. "The bank works with companies if they meet both these internal policies and the Equator Principles. However, given the sensitivity of the sector, the bank considers all nuclear proposals on a case-by-case basis to ensure that those we support meet good international standards and are undertaken by experienced companies.
"HSBC is currently updating its energy sector policy, and will publish a summary of the policy later in 2010. This will include an update of our engagement with the nuclear sector."
Profundo calculates that the 124 banks provided EUR175 billion to the sector during the 2000-09 period. The website highlights the activities of 45 of the banks most heavily involved, rating them on their "radioactivity".