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Ambitious goals in sustainable finance recognised by International Financing Review

On February 26th, International Financing Review (IFR) awarded BNP Paribas with several honors including Bank of the Year for Sustainable Finance, a sign of BNP Paribas’ strong leadership in assisting its clients with the transition to a more sustainable economy. What sets BNP Paribas apart in its approach to sustainable finance? We take a look at the Group’s ambitious goals and its view on the future.

Leading the way: A long-standing commitment to progressive policies

Among the factors that IFR cited in their decision to award BNP Paribas was its long-standing commitment to sustainability. “It is notable that many of the policies announced by banks in 2020 have already been policy at BNP Paribas for years,” IFR wrote in their summary of the award. Since 2011, the bank has committed to strong CSR policies driven by the UN Sustainable Development goals and the desire to help clients through their low-carbon transitions. Some of these policies include:

  • A complete coal-exit time table (2030 for the EU and OECD countries, 2040 for the rest of the world;

  • Additional progressive policies in financing and investments targeting palm oil, defense, and nuclear energy among others.

"BNP Paribas, under the leadership of CEO Jean-Laurent Bonnafé, has truly led the way on sustainable finance."

IFR, International FInance Review

The Group has also been an active force in the fight against climate change in addition to its own polices and in order to further align its activity with the objectives set by the Paris Climate Agreements. In 2020, the Group published its first TCFD (Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures) report as well as a first report related to the PACTA methodology.

This open-source methodology for aligning loan portfolios with the Paris Agreement targets was the result of the commitment of four banks, including BNP Paribas, during the COP 24 in Katowice in 2018. BNP Paribas has also furthered its commitments to aligning with the Paris Agreements by joining other large international banks in the FSTF  (Financial Services Taskforce)

Responding to society’s needs: mobilising for a sustainable recovery

IFR also highlighted BNP Paribas’ proactive responses to the 2020 pandemic, speaking to the Group’s overall strategy of supporting sustainable solutions for people and communities alongside its climate commitments. At the onset of the pandemic, BNP Paribas mobilised to increase its support for charities, vulnerable populations and students with more than €55 million pledged to NGO organisations across 30 countries.

“Sustainability has to be a part of the way the company is run, because nobody can win in a world that loses”

Antoine Sire, Head of Company Engagement, BNP Paribas

At the same time, and as noted by IFR, BNP Paribas stepped up its support to clients becoming the largest European lender to corporates in the first four months.  Overall BNP Paribas supported the issuance of US $32.1 billion in COVID-19 response bonds. The bank also ramped up its support for SME businesses and in support of the real economy through lending to impacted microfinance institutions and debt moratoriums, including more than 40,000 Italian customers who received additional credit lines.

As the crisis continues around the world, these efforts are also still underway, as Constance Chalchat, Head of Company Engagement, BNP Paribas CIB, noted: “We are continuing to accompany our investor and corporate clients as they ramp up commitments towards tackling environmental and social challenges.  Finance has a vital role to play in a responsible recovery."

Finance has a vital role to play in a responsible recovery .

Looking to future ambitions: scaling-up sustainability

As the COP26 in Glasgow this November approaches, BNP Paribas continues to set even greater ambitions to further its contributions.  IFR recognised some of these next steps, noting that BNP Paribas has accelerated its financing goals to renewable energy, with €17.8bn in 2020.

The bank is also preparing for the next great challenge to the Earth’s climate by increasing its involvement in actions to save the planet’s biodiversity. As Laurence Pessez, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, BNP Paribas, says, “Biodiversity is going to be the major subject on our radar in 2021."

Biodiversity is going to be the major subject on our radar in 2021.

The subject was particularly highlighted by IFR who writes that the bank’s current actions put it, “ahead of many of its peers in terms of thinking about the next big issue.” Some of BNP Paribas’ actions for biodiversity already underway include:

  • A new restrictive policy to fight deforestation in the Amazon and Cerrado regions.

  • Participation in the Taskforce for Nature-related Financial Disclosures, pushing financial institutions so study their impact on biodiversity;

  • BNP Paribas’ involvement as the sustainability coordinator in the first-ever SLL (biodiversity-linked loan);

  •  Several initiatives announced in 2020 for the protection of the oceans and the blue economy;

"Society has understood that finance has strong levers to help our world tackle the immense challenges related to climate change and biodiversity."

Jean-Laurent Bonnafé

Director and CEO of BNP Paribas

Crédit photo : ©Monet

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