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Today's announcement by the French government that BNP Paribas, the French banking sector's top financier of the coal industry, is to be one of the corporate sponsors of the United Nations climate summit (COP21) in Paris has been strongly criticised by the international bank campaign organisation BankTrack.
BankTrack is calling on the French government and COP21's General Secretariat to reject corporate sponsorship from fossil fuel companies, including banks and investors that keep the fossil fuel sector financially afloat.
Yann Louvel, BankTrack's Climate and Energy coordinator, commented: "Inviting BNP Paribas to sponsor the UN Climate Summit certainly helps to bail out the bank's carbon-encrusted image, but it sends all the wrong signals about the absolute need to urgently end both fossil fuel use and continued support for this climate-busting sector.
"Not only has BNP Paribas coughed up more than 15 billion euros for the coal industry in the last decade, more than half of the French banking sector's total coal support over this period, but at its recent annual shareholders meeting BNP also ducked the issue of its coal financing and remains as attached as ever to providing the ailing coal industry with financial life support. This is some reward for blatant climate change negligence and stands in contrast with another French bank, Crédit Agricole, which announced last week that it is pulling out of financing for coal mining."
BankTrack's most recent research into the global banking sector's financial support for the coal sector - both mining and power - has ranked BNP Paribas as the world's number nine coal bank with its support for the sector trending upwards between 2010 and 2013. 
On fossil fuel financing more widely, BNP Paribas has recently acknowledged that the financing of fossil fuels accounts for close to 60 per cent of its overall electricity sector portfolio, while its financing for renewable energy now stands at 23 per cent. 
In partnership with Friends of the Earth France and other French NGOs, politicians and scientists, BankTrack is calling on BNP Paribas to sign the Paris Pledge and to commit before COP21 to quit coal. 
Notes for editors
1. Agence France Presse reports today that COP21 in Paris will cost 170 million euros, and that Laurent Fabius, French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, announced a range of corporate partners, among them BNP Paribas, Engie (formerly Gdf Suez), EDF, Air France and Renault Nissan. See this article (in French).
2. See BankTrack's 'Banking on Coal 2014' report here and the BNP Paribas profile on the 'Coal Banks' website. And also BankTrack's new coal bank briefing on BNP Paribas here.
3. Cited in 'BNP Paribas Annual Report 2014', page 466 (in French).
4. The text of the Paris Pledge can be found on the BNP Paribas coal bank briefing here. The Paris pledge was published in Le Monde on 13 May 2015, the day of the BNP Paribas AGM.
Picture Creative Commons credit.