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Get out of the coal? French finance is out of the question, according to a group of NGOs


Get out of the coal? French finance is out of the question, according to a group of NGOs

Paris (AFP)

A group of NGOs is attacking the French financial center, which pledged in July to provide a timetable for the exit of the financing of coal activities but would still be far from the account, shortly before the international meeting on climate (COP25) in Spain.

"Out of coal: French finance in working order?" say the French NGO Les Amis de la Terre, the Dutch BankTrack and the Unfriend Coal initiative targeting the insurance sector, in a report released Thursday.

The road remains long, according to these associations, which recall the commitment made on July 2 by the French place - then grouped under the banner of Paris Europlace, their lobbying association - to provide by mid-2020 a timetable for disengagement coal.

If implemented, this commitment could provoke "a powerful ripple effect" internationally, say the authors of the report. At the same time, they say they expect that many exit plans formulated at the level of the various companies will not be aligned with the objective of limiting global warming to 1.5 ° C maximum, set by the Paris climate agreement in 2015.

At issue, the "non-binding" nature of this commitment but also, according to NGOs, a "rigged evaluation process" plans for the exit of coal of these same actors, who will have from the 2020 exercise submit them to their regulators , the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) or the French Prudential Supervisory Authority (ACPR).

These two authorities will be supported in their analyzes by commissions showing "heavy conflicts of interest", they estimate, "more than a quarter of their members (being) representatives of financial actors" like BNP Paribas, Amundi, Axa or Natixis.

However, several major French groups present inconsistencies in the application of their commitments, note the militant associations. The reason? "Disinvesting coal costs nothing or is profitable while stopping to finance or insure a customer, what is more if its activities are diversified, is to lose" or give up market share, they say.

- Inconsistency of commitments -

On the basis of financial data provided by the Dutch research association Profundo, the NGOs designate the BNP Paribas banking group as "the biggest French financier of companies" developing new coal-fired power plants, "with no less than 2.2 billion ( of funds granted to these companies in 2019 alone ".

In the insurance, Axa, despite a policy of disinvestment of coal more extensive, offers insurance cover to companies involved in coal projects, deplore the activists, citing as example Adani Mining, the Australian subsidiary of the Indian conglomerate Adani, responsible for the highly contested mega-project Carmichael mine in Australia.

The Societe Generale and Natixis banks are singled out for their coal strategies that do not allow them to leave the sector "in the time set by climate science".

The NGOs also mention the case of Crédit Agricole, considered as a precursor with an ambitious goal of removing coal: by 2030 for the EU and OECD countries, 2040 for China and 2050 for the rest of the world. world. They now ask him for the declination for each business line (financing, asset management and insurance).

Finally, the report grapples with actors without a coal policy having "no image to defend the general public" as Comgest or Rothschild & co.

As solutions, the NGOs urge the French financial actors to "announce the immediate exclusion of 417 companies that develop new coal projects and a strategy allowing the latest exit of coal by 2030 in the EU countries and the OECD and by 2040 elsewhere ".

These two requests are part of their "ten rules for getting out of coal".

Among these, the financial sector is also invited to no longer directly support "new or existing projects, mines, power plants and coal infrastructure", and to take binding measures, such as the suspension of the provision of financial services, towards customers involved in coal to bring them to cease their activities in this sector.

© 2019 AFP

Source: france24

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