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5 years after the Paris Agreement: the road to Zero Carbon

Organized by the City of Paris and the French economics publication, La Tribune, the Paris Zero Carbon forum was held the on the 10th and 11th of December at the City Hall of Paris and made accessible online. For BNP Paribas, this international event presented an opportunity to take stock of the advancements already underway and to look toward the continuing role of finance in the energy transition.

The Paris Zero Carbon Forum

On the 12th of December, 2015, during the COP21, the historic Paris Agreement was signed with the goal of limiting global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius and achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. To mark the occasion of the 5th anniversary of this historic agreement, the Paris Carbon Zero Forum 2020 brought together mayors of French and international cities with scientific experts, NGOs, and business leaders to discuss the progress toward these objectives.

Through round table discussions and events over the course of the two days, the Forum’s guests paid particular attention to the role that cities have and will continue to play in advancing climate objectives. Debates also centered on the need for the private and public sectors to find more opportunities to work together on projects with a positive impact, the need to address social concerns along with major climate issues, and the ways to recover sustainably in light of the Covid-19 crisis.

Jean-Laurent Bonnafé, Chief Executive Officer and Director of BNP Paribas and President of the organisation Businesses for the Environment (Entreprises Pour l’Envrionment), and Laurence Pessez, Director of CSR, BNP Paribas, both participated in round tables specifically addressing the role of banks and the importance of green financing in order to accelerate solutions at both the local and global level.  Raphaèle Leroy, Director of company engagement for the French banking network, BNP Paribas, also participated in the Forum, presenting the Grand Prize in innovations accelerating the ecological transition to the city of Charenton-le-Pont in the Paris region for its “Charenton Bercy” project to revitalize the southeast of Paris.

5 years of new goals in sustainability

Since the ratification of the Paris Agreement, companies, governments, and institutions have embraced sustainability, and the Zero Carbon Forum provided an opportunity for these different experts to review this major shift. For BNP Paribas in particular, sustainability has become core to the Group’s business strategies over the course of the last 5 years alongside its usual banking objectives. The introduction of the climate as criteria for The Group’s decisions has so far represented an immense effort involving numerous employees around the world to transform its practices, processes and metrics to meet its commitments, resulting in several ambitious goals for sustainability. Some of these goals have included:  

  • Aligning the Group’s credit portfolios with the objectives of the Paris Climate Agreement through work on PACTA with the other signatories of the Katowice treaty ;

  • Becoming a leader in green investments by increasing financing of the energy transition via renewable energies from €7.2 billion in 2015 to €15.9 billion in 2019 and by committing €100 million to start-ups innovating in the field of energy transition;

  • Reducing the Group’s impact on the environment within its operational scope, a goal that was met ahead of schedule in 2017 when BNP Paribas achieved carbon neutrality.

Continuing to accelerate the transition

While certain milestones have already been met, the anniversary of the Paris Agreement was also an opportunity for these experts to call attention to the work that still needs to be done in order to accelerate the transition across all sectors and achieve net zero carbon emissions. In his both his round table at the Forum and in his interview with La Tribune, Jean-Laurent Bonnafé expressed that while French banks, including BNP Paribas, remain at the forefront of the energy transition, the trajectory of the economy as a whole must change. As he pointed out, the solutions and technologies driving the transition are still in their infancy, and will need to mature in the long-term with the continuing support of financial institutions.

“Society's energy transition necessarily involves offers of services, techniques and technologies that only companies can design. Our role as a bank is to support them on a daily basis and to offer them financing solutions to build the future.

We have to be realistic, however, in several sectors we are still in the preliminary stages of implementing this transition. We must remain humble and lucid on the work accomplished so far, and also very aware and mobilized in the face of the magnitude of the task that we must collectively accomplish.”

Jean-Laurent Bonnafé, Chief Executive Officer and Director of BNP Paribas

Read the entire interview with Jean-Laurent Bonnafé translated from French newspaper La Tribune

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Photo credits: Westend61

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