The bank for a changing world

Carbon neutral: BNP Paribas' commitment to the climate

  • 22.04.2018

In accordance with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, BNP Paribas has made carbon neutrality a flagship commitment that serves as the foundation of its policy on environmental responsibility. The Group is therefore putting in place a policy to reduce its direct impact on the environment, and is guiding its clients toward business opportunities that promote a low-carbon economy—a strong and impactful commitment.

Three levers to counter environmental impacts

Since 2012, BNP Paribas has spearheaded an active policy to reduce its direct impact on the environment—impacts that are linked to business activities. To this end, the Group has activated three complementary levers. 

  • First lever—the reduction of direct CO2 emissions. In order to reduce its direct emissions of CO2, the bank has established an active policy of energy efficiency at its buildings and datacenters, which produce 73.5% of its emissions. Due to this policy, the Group’s energy consumption has declined to an average of 195 kWh/m2 in 2017, down from 201 kWh/m2 in 2016. Optimizing professional trips, which make up the remaining 26.5% of emissions, has resulted in a 3% decline in km/FTE in 2017, thanks to the widespread use of web conferencing, video conferencing or tele-presence technologies.
  • Second lever—low-carbon electricity solutions for the entirety of its needs, whenever possible. In 2017, the share of renewable electricity represented 26.2% of all electricity consumed in the Group’s buildings. This share has increased through purchases of renewable electricity, but also from the energy directly produced by the Group’s buildings.
  • Third lever—partnerships to counteract CO2 emissions that cannot be reduced. The Group was able to counteract 455,000 tonnes of CO2 in 2017 thanks to credits from the NGO Wildlife Works, which oversees a program to preserve and restore 500,000 hectares of forest in Kenya. Supporting the GoodPlanet project will also allow the Group to counteract an average of 15% of emissions every year over a 10-year period. This partnership should help improve living conditions for nearly 70,000 people, thanks to the installation of 13,000 anaerobic digesters (used to break down biodegradable material to generate electricity) in India. 

And what are the results? Within five years, the Group has reduced its employee CO2 emissions by 20% and has achieved its carbon neutrality objective. Its goal for 2020 is to achieve a 25% reduction in employee emissions. To achieve this objective, the Group has launched the “Carbon Reduction 2020” program. It guarantees the sharing of best practices in seven of the highest-emitting countries in the Group (France, Belgium, Italy, the United States, Turkey, Poland and the UK).  

How are the Group’s environmental indicators monitored? 

The progress of BNP Paribas’ environmental indicators is managed on an annual basis using a CSR pilot dashboard. Respect for the goals is overseen by the Group’s Executive Committee and the Board of Directors. Nine of 13 indicators on this dashboard, including measures of direct impacts, are integrated when calculating the variable salaries of more than 6,300 T op Managers. 

Withdrawing from polluting industries

BNP Paribas is also taking action to direct financial and investment flows toward businesses that support energy transition. 

The bank first decided to reduce financing and investments linked to fossil fuels (carbon extraction and financing of power plants, petrol and non-conventional gas, including shale gas) by helping stakeholders implement best practices in these sectors. The Group is thereby withdrawing from energy sources that emit the highest levels of greenhouse gases: with 52% of fossil fuels and 26% of renewable sources, the electric mix financed by BNP Paribas in 2017 has a lower average carbon footprint than the global average in light of scenarios proposed by the International Energy Agency over the same period.      

Investing in a sustainable future 

Sustainable finance, which seeks to align economic performance with environmental impact or societal benefit, is another field of action for BNP Paribas. The Group figures among the world’s top three stakeholders in the Green Bonds market, with €5.3 billion invested in 2017. Its subsidiary, BNP Paribas Asset Management, proposes a wider range of low-carbon funds to investors (Parvest Green Bonds, Global Environment, Climate Impact, etc.). To support businesses seeking to become carbon-neutral, in 2018 BNP Paribas will launch a platform for the purchase and sale of credits issued to voluntarily counteract carbon—ClimateSeed. The platform will reinvest 100% of its profits in the development of initiatives aimed at improving its environmental impact.  

In parallel, the Group is going to double its financing in the renewable energy sector, passing from €7.2 billion in 2015 to €15 billion by 2020. It will also invest €100 million in innovative start-ups  by 2020.

Finally, the internal use of carbon pricing will be progressively systematized, in order to account for changes arising from the energy transition and risks associated with financing decisions. Externally, the Group has joined the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition, under the authority of the World Bank, which aims to encourage the implementation of carbon taxes on a global scale.  

Photo header ©Cavan Images

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