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The disastrous CO2 balance of major French banks pinned by Oxfam

In the category of the biggest French polluters, the palm goes to the banks. According to a report published this Friday, October 22 by the organization fighting against inequalities Oxfam, each of the top four French banks, namely BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole, Société Générale and Banque Populaire-Caisse d’Epargne (BPCE), generates a carbon footprint greater than that of French territory. Even the biggest CAC40 companies, like TotalEnergies, don’t have such a devastating impact on the environment, writes Oxfam.

Increasingly carbon-intensive investments

Banks, which do not directly produce greenhouse gases, nevertheless participate in global warming when they invest in carbon-based activities. It is in this sense that they are considered to be polluting.

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On this point, they are “Completely against the climate emergency”, according to Oxfam. Between 2017 and 2020, the contribution to greenhouse gas emissions of one euro invested by the largest French banks increased by 2% on average. This increase even amounts to 17% for Crédit Agricole, which looks like a dunce, while La Banque Postale detonates by committing to phase out fossil fuels before 2030.

The main lever for action is in fact the following: to stop investments in oil and gas, two sectors which alone represent between 39% and 48% of the carbon footprint of banks.

Carbon4 Finance / Oxfam

Call for sanctions

It is clear that the incentives to withdraw from oil and gas investments, formulated by Bruno Le Maire in October 2020 or by the International Energy Agency (IEA) in May 2021, have not been respected by French banks. .

The government is not going far enough, according to Oxfam, which calls on lawmakers to take up the issue and turn recommendations into binding law, despite “A still unclear European regulatory framework”.

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As a final argument, the organization encourages banks to think about the consequences of their investments over the long term. Financing the carbon economy is not only harming the environment, but also “To the economy and to finance itself”.

“The State has the means to break this toxic dependence and to extinguish the embers on which the French banks are blowing”, insists Alexandre Poidatz, advocacy officer at Oxfam.

“The government cannot be satisfied with appealing to the goodwill of financial players. It is time to translate these vague appeals into binding law ”.

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Oxfam finally warns about “Irreversible financial losses” that could be generated by climatic events: at the global level, it is estimated at 20,000 billion dollars, or more than eight times the GDP of France, the stock market values ​​of carbon-intensive companies threatened by global warming.


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