BNP Paribas says it will no longer back oil

Paris-based bank said it's committed to supporting only those companies with a greener agenda.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |  Oct. 11, 2017 at 6:05 AM
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Oct. 11 (UPI) -- Paris-based global banker BNP Paribas said Wednesday it would no longer do business with companies tied to oil sands, shale development or Arctic campaigns.

"We're committed to working with and supporting those energy sector partners who have decided to make environmental issues a central part of their business policy," CEO Jean-Laurent Bonnafé said in a statement.

The firm, the largest bank in France, offered a long list of projects it would no longer finance, ranging from an end to the support for projects involved in the transportation or export of oil and gas from shale basins or tar sands operations, like those found in Canada. The bank said it would no longer finance projects in the Arctic region and no longer support coal energy companies not actively looking to diversity its own portfolio.

The Paris-based bank said the new measures support previous commitments to green up its financial support with a $17.7 billion in backing for renewable energy projects by 2020, investments totaling $118 million for start-ups that specialize in energy transition and a "highly ambitious policy on green bonds."

The announcement Wednesday comes as the energy sector transitions along several fronts. In the United States, President Donald Trump has started work to pull out of the Paris climate agreement, aligned his energy policies with coal and laid out a vision for energy dominance through shale oil and gas, whose development is controversial because of the perceived risks associated with hydraulic fracturing.

For tar sands, the exit from the Paris bank follows a March decision from Royal Dutch Shell to sell $7.25 billion worth of undeveloped oil sands interests in Canada to other companies in the country. One of the controversies, meanwhile, surrounding the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Alberta was related to greenhouse gas emissions and developer TransCanada recently shelved a pipeline for eastern Canada because of federal environmental concerns.

"We're a long-standing partner to the energy sector and we're determined to support the transition to a more sustainable world," Bonnafé said. "As an international bank, our role is to help drive the energy transition and contribute to the decarbonization of the economy."

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