The years go by and they all look the same. As in 2020, the major French banks are the leading financiers of fossil fuels at European level, according to the annual report “Banking on Climate Chaos”. The seven NGOs that carried out this survey estimate that the six French banks studied allocated 47 billion dollars to companies linked to hydrocarbons last year.
In their report, the NGOs calculate every year since the Paris agreement signed in 2015 the amount of support from the 60 largest global banks for gas, oil and coal producing companies by compiling loans, but also emissions of stocks and bonds. And the conclusion is clear, according to Louis-Maxence Delaporte, campaign manager at Reclaim Finance, one of the associations behind the report: “France is the leading European financier of fossil fuels and the fifth in the world in 2021.”
Among the six French establishments rated, there is a majority of bad students (BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole, Société Générale and BPCE), and two entities on the right track (La Banque Postale and Crédit Mutuel).
The Postal Bank and Crédit Mutuel have zapped coal
In detail, the Postal Bank and Crédit Mutuel are considered to be “leaders leading by example” in the exclusion of fossil fuels, among the best students in the world, and by quite a distance. Whether in the weakness of the financing operated (respectively) but also in the commitments and actions.
The Postal Bank even gets the maximum mark about their “exclusion of all companies listed on the Global Oil & Gas Exit List”, This database lists the activity and investment plans of 887 global oil and gas companies. The Banque Postale and Crédit Mutuel are also the two best students among the 60 banks studied in terms of financing the coal industry.
Chronicle “The Green Thread”
Among the companies financed, the Postal Bank only supported two in 2021: Engie ($68.71 million), majority-owned by the French state, and the Société d’infrastructures gazières ($197.44 million), investment company owned by Caisse des dépôts and CNP Assurances, 78.9% owned by Banque Postale, a branch of the La Poste group, itself 66% owned by… Caisse des dépôts.
And on the side of Crédit Mutuel, after having financed no fossil fuels in 2020, it issued “only” 13.59 million dollars, which received an almost identical sum from seven other banks in the ranking. With 397 million “only” in the last six years, it is 59th in the ranking, just ahead of the Postal Bank (423 million).
BNP Paribas in the “Dirty Dozen”
This is far from the case of BNP Paribas, classified among the “Dirty Dozen”, the “dirty dozen”, which are the twelve banks among the worst since the Paris agreement in 2016. Already qualified as “king of the hypocrites” in last year’s report, BNP Paribas is the tenth in the world to have financed the most fossil fuels, with 141.61 billion dollars in six years. And, according to this report, it is even the one that has most sponsored projects in the Arctic and off the coast worldwide.
It is also these two sectors that weigh down the figures of Société Générale (87.43 billion) and Crédit Agricole (75.78 billion). A rare good point for the four worst-rated banks: “From January 2022, they will no longer finance dedicated projects and companies whose share of unconventional hydrocarbons in exploration and production (shale oil, shale gas and oil sands) would be greater than 30% of their activity. », wrote the French Banking Federation in October. This is not enough in the eyes of NGOs, who expect even more ambitious commitments, beyond just shale oil and gas.
Which companies financed?
As for the beneficiaries of investments from French banks, BNP Paribas has mainly injected funds into the companies BP, ENI and Shell over the past six years. But, in 2021, the Saudi Arabian Oil Co is by far the most financed by the French bank.
Société Générale and BPCE/Natixis are, for their part, two of the three banks which finance the most Farrington NV, a group domiciled in Curaçao, of which Trafigura is a member, an oil box which has been talked about for an environmental disaster in Ivory Coast about ten years ago. TotalEnergies, for its part, is financed primarily by Crédit Agricole, as well as BNP Paribas.
If the investments of French banks fell from 88 billion dollars in 2020 to 47 billion in 2021, this amount remains 2% higher than that estimated for 2016, the year of the signing of the Paris agreement. Since the adoption of this agreement, “we do not see a structural decline in financing: we cannot record the fact that there is a change in strategy on the part of the banks”, comments Louis-Maxence Delaporte. However, the six French banks have all made a commitment in 2021 to carbon neutrality by 2050.
For its part, the French Banking Federation denounces figures “whimsical” put forward by the associations and ensures that it “there is no addiction to hydrocarbons on the part of French banks”. She rejects the logic of exclusion “all-round” companies linked to fossil fuels and instead advocates supporting citizens and companies towards a low-carbon economy.
“French banks must finance the entire economy which today is carbon-intensive”, she assures, adding that banks also finance “massively renewable energies”. One “at the same time” which will hardly convince citizens and environmental associations.
And in the world ?
At the global level, the report of the seven NGOs estimates the amount of financing at 742 billion dollars in 2021, i.e. 1% less than in 2020 but 2.5% more than in 2016. Four American banks (JP Morgan Chase , Wells Fargo, Citi and Bank of America) dominate the ranking, with JP Morgan Chase alone responsible for 382 of the 4,000 billion invested by banks in fossil fuels. American banks which are also leaders on the side of hydraulic fracturing, which makes it possible to obtain gas or oil from shale.
Their Chinese counterparts, on the other hand, finance the coal sector with hundreds of billions. China is also the country whose companies are the furthest from meeting the objectives of the Paris agreement on coal. In six years, twelve banks of the Asian giant have, for example, given 18 billion euros – out of the 23.8 billion allocated by the 60 banking establishments in total – to China Energy, classified by the journalist Mickaël Correia as one of the three companies rejecting the most CO2 in the world.