Francoske okoljske organizacije Les Amis de la Terre / Friends of the Earth France, Notre Affaire à Tous in Oxfam France so danes vložile tožbo proti banki BNP Paribas zaradi njene podpore industriji fosilnih goriv in prispevka k podnebnim spremembam. Zahtevajo, da banka spoštuje francosko zakonodajo o dolžnosti nadzora in preneha podpirati širitev fosilnih goriv. Gre za prvo tovrstno tožbo proti banki v zgodovini. Pričujoči primer je dokaz, da je treba tudi finančne institucije vključiti v okvire zakonodaje, saj so le-te pomemben akter pri oblikovanju prihodnosti, kjer bo mogoče dostojno življenje za vse v okviru enega planeta.
V okviru prizadevanj za odgovornost (tudi) podjetij za okoljsko škodo in kršenje človekovih pravic v vrednostnih verigah si tudi na Focusu prizadevamo, da bi v nastajajočo zakonodajo na ravni EU vključili tudi finančne institucije. Nazadnje smo stališče o tem objavili in posredovali odločevalcem novembra lani.
Zakonodaja, ki jo predlaga Evropska komisija – direktiva o skrbnem pregledu v podjetjih glede trajnostnosti – je finančne institucije izključila iz kroga odgovornih institucij.
Več o pozivu Focusa, platforme Sloga in Pravične trgovine Slovenije: https://focus.si/stalisce-zagotovitev-ucinkovite-direktive-o-skrbnem-pregledu-v-podjetjih-glede-trajnostnosti/
Naše stališče: https://focus.si/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/20221128-CSDDD-slovenia.pdf
Pravni postopek proti banki PNB Paribas lahko podprete tukaj, kjer je tudi več informacij o primeru: bnp-case.com/
V nadaljevanju prispevek v angleškem jeziku o primeru tožbe proti BNP Paribas, ki ga je pripravila Suzie Vanoosten*.
3 French NGOs launch legal action against the big bank BNP Paribas: an unprecedented situation
In October 2022, 3 French NGOs (Les Amis de la Terre France, Oxfam France and L’Affaire du siècle) sent a formal notice to BNP Paribas, the biggest French bank, to stop its financial support to the fossil fuels industry and its new projects because of its disastrous impacts on the environment. The bank had 3 months to elaborate a concrete plan of action in response to this formal notice. However, the weak commitments the BNP Paribas advances are considered by the NGOs as insufficient, leading them to decide to go to court. Which raises an unprecedented situation and, especially, big hopes.
What is the bank BNP Paribas accused of?
BNP Paribas is the biggest French bank company. It encounters 7.7 millions of clients and it recorded in 2022 a profit exceeding 10 billions of euros. As one of the major bank companies in the world, it has numerous ties with the fossil fuel industry. In fact, the BNP Paribas has been the company who invests the most in this field: a report showed that, between 2016 (after the signature of the Paris Agreement, aiming to limit the temperatures’ rise to 1.5°C) and 2021, the BNP Paribas injected more than 43.4 billions of euros in the 8 main European and American fossil fuels companies, including Shell and Total Energies. No other bank had done it in the same proportion. But what is genuinely problematic about those investments is that it indirectly finances these companies’ new projects of fossil fuel expansion. Even 200 of them are considered as “climate bombs”. In the meantime, the BNP Paribas is also the top investor in numerous projects involving oil and gas’ expansion reported as very dangerous for unique ecosystems, especially in Antarctic.
However, a current scientific consensus about climate change (including the IPCC, IEA, the UN) urges that no new projects of fossil fuel extraction should be led as it causes huge emissions of GHG and pollutions that are disastrous for local biodiversity and ecosystems.
Thus, considering all those elements, the 3 French NGOs argued that the BNP Paribas does not respect its duty of vigilance, as expressed by the French law.
How the NGOs managed to bring this case to court?
From the beginning, the 3 NGOs based their legal action against BNP Paribas on the ambitious 2017 French law called “devoir de vigilance” (duty of vigilance in English). This law compels big companies to prevent offenses to human rights and the environment their activities could create, even abroad in the case they have foreign subsidiaries. Thus, they are obliged to be thoughtful and to inspect every aspect of their activity, raising transparency as a requirement. However, the BNP Paribas, by massively investing through its finance activities in fossil fuel industries’ new projects, is accused of not compelling itself to its duty of vigilance, as those projects represent a serious threat to the environment. They especially emphasize on the fact that the BNP Paribas has a larger carbon footprint than French territorial emissions due to its finance activities.
That is why, in October 2022, the 3 NGOs sent a formal notice to the BNP Paribas to stop its destructive investments. 3 months later, the clear irresponsibility and unseriousness of the French bank by announcing only weak commitments and by constantly questioning their climate responsibilities, especially by deploying greenwashing in the media, its employees and clients, led the 3 NGOs to take a big and unprecedented decision: they will go to court.
What can we expect of this unprecedented legal action?
It will be the first time in the world’s history that a bank is legally pursued for its contribution to climate imbalance. This type of legal action against a bank is indeed totally unprecedented. And the impacts of this trial could be tremendous, as hoped by the NGOs. Their demands are clear: they want the BNP Paribas to immediately stop its financial support to companies who develop new fossil fuel expansion projects, without a clear plan to ultimately drop oil and gas. But, above all of that, their aim is to create a legal precedent: if the court ultimately founds BNP Paribas guilty of not compelling to its duty of vigilance, it will be then easier to hold other banks accountable. Indeed, we must not forget that the BNP Paribas is not the only bank who invests on fossil fuels and dangerous projects for the environment. Thus, if the 3 NGOs win this trial, this winning could impact the entire finance field, maybe leading other banks to commit more sincerely for the environment and against climate change.
We will then find out at the end of the trial…
Meanwhile, here is the link to the petition created by the 3 NGOs, whose aim is to increase pressure on the bank: https://bnp-case.com.
“L’Affaire BNP Paribas” website: https://bnp-case.com
Stéphane Mandard, “BNP Paribas mise en demeure de cesser de financer les énergies fossiles et le « chaos climatique », Le Monde, 26 octobre 2022.
* Suzie Vanoosten je aktivna pri Focusu kot pripravnica, od februarja do junija 2023.