As players from the financial and fossil industry gather in Paris for Climate Finance Day, the Caisse des Dépôts Group (CDC) has just announced new measures on climate. Reclaim Finance and Friends of the Earth deplore the lack of ambition of the commitments in the face of the absolute urgency to curb the global expansion of fossil fuels. The French Minister of the Economy and Finance acknowledged that the coal exit strategies of private financial actors were disparate and that they should go beyond this by adopting an unconventional oil exit strategy, yet he did not provide a solution to force them to do so. NGOs call on the government to regulate private financial actors to reduce their funding in all fossil fuels and to set a real example for public financial institutions.
The CDC is improving its coal policy very slightly by adopting exclusion thresholds based on the absolute coal production of companies. However, it lacks many criteria needed to adopt a robust exit policy as required by the commitment made by the French financial community on 2 July 2019. The CDC does not even commit to reducing its coal exposure to zero and only encourages companies such as Engie to adopt a coal exit plan. As a result, it remains among most French financial players that have not fully kept their promise (1). Minister of Finance Bruno Le Maire acknowledged that not all policies are the same and that approaches need to be harmonized and aligned with best practices.
With the exclusion of companies deriving more than 10% of their revenues from oil and gas shale, oil sands and resources from the Arctic zone, the CDC’s announcement goes much further than those made by French banks or OFI Asset Management. But though the CDC has well identified the stakes of the hydrocarbons sector, the proposed measures are far from responding to the climate emergency. This is even more questionable as it is a public financial institution, which should show the way forward to all financial actors.
Scientists are clear: to limit global warming to 1.5°C by the end of the century, we must stop exploiting any new hydrocarbon reserves today and developing any new polluting infrastructure. As things stand, its policy allows it to support new gas projects all over the world. Additionally, the CDC will be able to continue to support Total and many other companies active in the sector, without forcing them to immediately give up their new hydrocarbon projects – including in the sectors that CDC has identified as the riskiest, such as shale oil and gas and projects located in the Arctic.
“On coal as on other fossil fuels, the CDC intends to encourage companies without having to brandish the threat of disinvestment if the commitment fails or even dare to explicitly ask them to stop making the situation worse through the development of new fossil projects. Part of the problem is that the CDC refuses to recognise that gas is not a solution for the energy transition. We say it for them: the development of new gas reserves is just as much of a problem as the oil sector,” says Lucie Pinson, founder and CEO of Reclaim Finance.
Bruno Le Maire also called on all financial players to adopt an exit strategy for non-conventional oil as soon as possible. He also praised his new climate strategy for export financing. However, it is far from being aligned with science as it leaves the possibility for France to support hydrocarbon exploration abroad until 2035.
Lorette Philippot, head of the private finance campaign at Friends of the Earth, concludes: “It is indeed imperative to go beyond coal from now on, but the government must regulate and not incite financial actors and cannot confine the climate challenge to non-conventional oil alone. If Bruno Le Maire wishes to replicate his policy on export financing to private financial actors, he must, at the very least, impose a zero-tolerance of non-conventional oil and gas. By postponing every year, the moment to take disruptive measures and stop supplying the fossil fuel industry, both public and private financial institutions are demonstrating their inability to respond to the climate challenge”.
Press contacts present at Climate Finance Day:
- Lucie Pinson, founder, and CEO of Reclaim Finance, email@example.com, 06 79 54 37 15
- Lorette Philippot, Private Finance Campaigner for Friends of the Earth, firstname.lastname@example.org, 06 40 18 82 84