Like many people today, you are aware of the climate emergency. It may even be that at times it bothers you, but you do your best. You shop, avoid greenwashing companies, think twice before flying, and try to sort your waste as best you can, and that’s okay. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) also indicated in its latest report that behavioral and lifestyle changes could reduce gas emissions by 40-70% by 2050.
Yes, but here, despite all your good deeds, you can pollute, or rather finance, fossil energy projects, and this is through your bank and your savings.
In 2020, Oxfam said in a report that the carbon footprint of large French banks is “nearly eight times the greenhouse gas emissions of the whole of France. Thus, we are approaching +4°C warming by 2100. In this regard, Global Citizen spoke with Alexander Poidats, Finance and Climate Officer at Oxfam, to learn more about the carbon footprint our banks create.
To understand why banks pollute the environment, we must go back to the very functioning of these banks. Many people are still unaware that their money, once deposited into their bank account, will be used to finance projects in favor of fossil fuels.
Mr. Poidatz explains: “There are two separate elements: a savings account that will actually be used for direct investment in the company, and a checking account, for which the mechanism is indirect, because from the moment we have the money indicated above, we participation in the bank’s operating expenses and thus allows it to have the financial resources to lend money. »
Currently, there are no regulations that define the strict framework within which banks can operate. At the European level, there are discussions about the creation of a “green” taxonomy, which would allow to establish a classification of economic activities in order to determine whether they can be considered “environmentally sustainable”.
In France, only Livret A and the sustainability booklet are subject to regulations (or labels such as GreenFin), the rest rely more on the “goodwill of the banks”. Be careful if your bank offers you sustainable investment without government regulation. warns Mr. Poidatz.
Despite the lack of regulation, Global Citizen still has several levers to evaluate the release of their money and demonstrate to banks that we can no longer afford to wait.
1- Use the Oxfam calculator.
In collaboration with consulting firm Carbone 4, Oxfam has created a calculator that will allow you to estimate the carbon footprint of your bank accounts. Go here to access it. You just need to indicate in euro the total amount of your money, there are six main French banks.
Have these six French banks refocused their operations two years after the Oxfam report?
“Today, French banks are no longer investing in coal, yet the four largest French banks continue to focus on fossil fuels without redirecting their funding to the energy transition. explains Mr. Poidatz.
However, according to the latter, we can still see some signs of progress from Crédit Mutuel and Banque Postale: “We see Banque Postale taking more and more measures to move away from fossil fuels and reduce carbon emissions. Following, in October 2021, he, in particular, pledged to no longer fund any projects related to fossil fuels. »
French banks, however, continue to be Europe’s leading fossil fuel financiers. Recently, many activists denounced funding provided by three French banks to TotalEnergies’ EACOP (East African Pipeline) project in Uganda, which has been called a climate bomb.
2 – Download the RIFT app.
If you’re wondering if your savings are funding projects like EACOP or one of the 425 other “carbon bombs” that could emerge, the RIFT app is for you. Initiated by the Lita Responsible Investment Platform team, this app allows you to consult the social and environmental impact of your checking accounts, savings accounts and life insurance.
If you’ve used apps like Yuka before, the principle is relatively similar. All you have to do is enter the money you have in your various accounts and savings books, the app will then tell you the number of kilograms of CO² emitted per year, as well as the sectors funded by your savings (real estate, large companies, loans). individuals, etc.). In this way, the application alerts you when you are funding a sensitive sector such as weapons or fossil fuel related projects.Rift App
If you do not agree with your bank’s use of your savings, the Action tab allows you to go further by offering you investment alternatives according to the themes and sectors you wish to support.
3- Contact your bank advisor.
Once you know a little more about how your money is being used, sending an email to your bank advisor, the first point of contact for any client, is a good way to show your bank that the way your savings are being used is imported.
As more customers demand investment in favor of a sustainable transition, the more banks will have to change their practices to meet the demand.
Recently, before the General Meeting of TotalEnergies, many climate activists, including Camille Etienne, called on anyone who opposes the EACOP project to contact their bank and express their opposition to the financial support they can provide.
4- Select alternative banks.
If your current bank doesn’t align with your values, you can turn to more ethical solutions like Nef, a banking cooperative that has only offered funding for environmental, social and cultural projects for over 33 years.
Another possibility is Crédit coopératif, a cooperative bank whose capital is owned by its clients. His AGIR account and booklet give everyone the opportunity to choose which partner organization they want to support.
Mr. Poidatz nevertheless reminds that: “The goal is primarily to change banks, not to change banks.”