The world's major banks are accused of injecting 1 688 billion euros in the field of fossil fuels since the 21st Conference of the parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on climate change (COP21). Yet, to hope to remain under the fateful bar of the 2 °c warming, we will have to leave in the ground one third of our oil reserves, half of our gas reserves and more than 80% of our coal reserves. Banks have a central role in achieving its objectives by directing their financing in the clean energy sector. Since the COP21 and the signing of the Paris agreement, they have increased their support for fossil energy projects.
"When the long-awaited climate alarm clock is over," questions the six NGOs behind the new fossil-funding census. According to novethic.fr, the fossil fuel finance report card 2019 reveals that the 33 major global banks have granted 1 688 billion million in fossil fuels financing since the COP21 of 2015, more than the GDP of Canada or Spain. Among them, the French BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole, Societe Generale and Natixis have financed coal, oil and gas in the amount of 124 billion euros since 2016.
"Financing for the fossil industries has continued to increase since the Paris climate agreement. It's an insult to logic, science and humanity. If the banks do not urgently cease to support these dirty sectors, the disasters expected from a climatic runaway will no longer be only probable, but imminent, alerted to novethic.fr, Alison Kirsch, researcher climate and energy at Rainforest Action Network.
Societe Generale: Second Bank to finance LNG
In France, however, the banking sector was illustrated on the eve of COP21, initially excluding coal. Then, BNP Paribas took the lead with a very strong announcement in October 2017. It then became the first French Bank to exclude unconventional fossil fuels. And the first in the world to give up projects to export gas and shale oil. Its oil sands, shale hydrocarbons and liquefied natural gas (LNG) supports have experienced declines of 72%, 87% and 69% since end 2017.
In the aftermath, Societe Generale and Crédit Agricole have hardened their policies on oil sands and shale hydrocarbons with limited exclusions to the most polluting companies and projects, far from the commitments made by BNP. Aiming for several months by actions of climate activists, Societe Generale is today the second largest bank in the world to finance LNG with nearly three billion euros granted since 2016.
Shale gas is going to blow up our carbon budget
The Bank is particularly active in the United States, where it participates in the financing of schist gas export terminal projects such as the highly contested Rio Grande LNG. "Gas can be a transitional energy if this is done in a framed way," explained novethic Cécile Rechatin, the head of environmental and social policy at Société Générale.
According to a recent study by oil change international, the exploitation of these new resources in shale oil and gas will become the first source of new CO2 emissions globally and represent the equivalent of emissions generated by 1 coal plants over their entire lifespan. The production boom in the Texas area alone could thus deplete almost 10% of the carbon budget in a 1.5 °c scenario.
"The banking sector is driving a vehicle that leads us straight into the wall, and banks like Societe Generale are backing the accelerator by supporting the expansion of increasingly polluting industries, such as shale gas in the United States. In the face of the urgency of the situation, French banks must now align all their activities with the objective of limiting global warming to 1.5 °c, concludes Lorette Philippot, head of private finance campaign for friends of the Earth France.