The first European financier of the expansion of fossil fuels BNP Paribas held its General Assembly yesterday. Climate emergency obliges, the NGOs Reclaim Finance and ShareAction went there to question the bank on its 141 billion dollars of financing granted to coal, oil and gas between 2016 and 2021 and called on the bank to cease all support for the climate. expansion of hydrocarbons.

Because if we must not get out of fossil fuels overnight, climate scientists and the International Energy Agency are categorical: we must move towards a rapid halt to the expansion of fossil fuels. BNP Paribas is far from responding to this imperative since it has granted $55 billion in financing to the 100 companies developing the most fossil fuels since the adoption of the Paris Agreement and has taken no measures to condition its future financial services to an expansion stop. Thus, the bank recently participated in an 8 billion dollar loan to TotalEnergies, the 7th company in the world to develop new oil and gas projects.

“Their profits, our lives”

The assembly was undoubtedly extraordinary due to the intervention of climate activists from Friends of the Earth, ANVCOP21 and Alternatiba who also came to denounce the bank’s greenwashing and its responsibility for the human and environmental consequences of the disruption. climatic.

The bank brushed off their calls as well as those of scientists, the International Energy Agency and civil society to accelerate climate action. BNP Paribas, through the voice of its CSR director, has hidden behind the energy crisis and the growth in demand to justify its support for new oil and gas field projects and the companies that develop them. Earlier, she claimed that the bank is doing more than what is required by the International Energy Agency in its roadmap for achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. For Reclaim Finance, “ it’s a pretty answer that doesn’t stand the test of facts” and the Director General of the AIE himself stipulated that the situation is temporary and cannot justify the deployment of new projects.

Bad faith on TotalEnergies

Camille Etienne was also present to ask the bank to commit to voting against TotalEnergies’ fake climate plan during its May 25 general meeting. The activist has stepped up actions in recent weeks to oppose the EACOP project developed by the French major in East Africa and denounced the recent loan of 8 billion dollars arranged by BNP Paribas and other banks for the benefit of TotalEnergies .

Jean-Laurent Bonnafé, Managing Director, replied that he could not commit to the votes at the General Meeting of TotalEnergies: those would depend solely on BNP Paribas AM. An answer that denotes bad faith: if BNP Paribas AM is indeed the direct shareholder of TotalEnergies, decisions concerning the major are of course taken at the highest level of the group, with the validation of Jean-Laurent Bonnafé. He denied the evidence under the gaze of Jean-Lemierre, the Chairman of BNP Paribas seated next to him during the meeting, who is also a member of the board of directors of TotalEnergies.

Finally, concerning the loan of 8 billion, BNP Paribas claimed that it was a “supplement of liquidity to the energy market in the context of the current crisis, a general line, not marked on fossil projects. Rising margin calls mean asking for additional cash.” In short, an answer very similar to that given to Les Echos but which raises questions: as has been widely reported in recent months, TotalEnergies like the other majors are awash in cash. Thus, the major should not need such support and should be able to meet the expenses related to margin calls on its own, with the only consequence of reducing its ability to invest. Which isn’t a bad thing when you know that 70% of TotalEnergies’ investment expenditure goes to fossil fuels and that the company is currently seeking to raise funds for its gigantic EACOP project in East Africa.

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