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BNP Paribas: The best bank to work for if you want to fight climate change?

Banks aren’t the most environmentally friendly employers in the world. Not all are equally as bad each other, however.

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Take BNP Paribas, for instance. The French bank, which in recent years has been better known for its surging investment banking ambitions, is also trying to clean up its (environmental) act. It's just announced a research & development partnership with environmental intelligence firm Kayrros to better identify the impact of methane emissions.

BNP also promised, in April last year, to no longer provide any financing dedicated to the development of new oil and gas fields, “regardless of the financing methods”.

BNP's share of oil & gas financing opportunities is also down, as backed by data from market intelligence firm Dealogic, from around 2 to 3%, to 0.3% in 2023. It hasn’t participated in any oil & gas sector bond issuances in over a year – a good start from an environmental point of view. Addiction recovery charity Recovery at the Crossroads said that it takes some people “six months of abstinence to reach the point where they don’t go back to their addictive behavior.” Hopefully BNP is past that hump.

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, however. According to the most recently available data, from Banking on Climate Chaos (BOCC)’s 2023 report on fossil fuel finance, the bank’s contribution to fossil fuel projects actually increased in 2022 compared to 2021. (There isn’t a 2024 report, covering 2023’s numbers, out yet).

BNP's 2023 pledge to cut fossil fuel finacing followed its 2022 climate report, which noted that it “committed to reduce its financing to upstream oil and gas by 12% between 2020 and 2025.” That's not a big cut. Maybe spiking oil and gas prices were too good to ignore.

BNP isn’t the only big bank sticking by long-established climate ambitions, but it’s arguably the most serious about them. JPMorgan, BofA, Citi, and Wells Fargo all left the Equator Principles, an organization that provides a framework for ESG reporting, yesterday. Those four banks are also named by BOCC as being the four biggest financers of fossil fuel projects globally since 2016. 

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AUTHORZeno Toulon

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