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'Great News for the Climate' as Banking Giant Ditches Tar Sands, Arctic Drilling

Climate campaigners praise move by BNP Paribas, call on other banks to follow suit

A 2015 protest targets banks as climate change profiteers. (Photo: Peg Hunter/flickr/cc)

A 2015 protest targets banks as climate change profiteers. (Photo: Peg Hunter/flickr/cc)

In a move being hailed as a win for the climate, banking giant BNP Paribas announced Wednesday that it is severing ties with companies whose main business is connected to shale and/or oil from tar sands, will stop financing transportation projects for such fuels, and will not finance any oil or gas projects in the Arctic region.

"In concrete terms," writes Jean-Laurent Bonnafé, director and CEO of BNP Paribas, "these decisions mean that we will cease providing finance to a number of companies and organizations that are not making an effort to be part of the transition to a less greenhouse gas-emitting economy."

According to Lucie Pinson, Friends of the Earth France's private finance campaigner, it's "great news for the climate and a huge victory for the groups who have been mobilizing in support of Indigenous peoples who are on the front line of the impacts of tar sands, shale gas, and LNG projects in North America."


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Her organization, along with other climate groups, was behind a report (pdf) issued earlier this year that denounced the bank for "contributing to a range of serious potential climate, environmental, and social impacts" through its financial help for a proposed Texas LNG project. A press statement from the group notes that the decision means the bank won't finance the export terminal in the Rio Grande Valley.

Alex Speers-Roesch, an oil campaigner with Greenpeace Canada, similarly called it "a testament to the diligent work of Indigenous activists, environmental groups, concerned citizens, and everyone advocating to reform the financial sector."

"More and more banks and investment funds recognize that in order to preserve their reputations and long-term financial performance, tar sands pipelines, and other extreme fossil fuel projects are not the way to go," he added. "Banks such as TD and Desjardins, that stake their reputations on being socially responsible, should expect growing resistance if they continue to fund pipelines such as Kinder Morgan."

Patrick McCully, director of Rainforest Action Network's Climate and Energy Program, also draws attention to "JPMorgan Chase, the largest U.S. funder of tar sands," saying that it and other U.S. banks "now need to decide if they want to continue to follow the Trump dirty energy agenda, or change course and get in alignment with those trying to avert climate disaster."

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