Are savings a heavyweight in our carbon footprint?

Are savings a heavyweight in our carbon footprint?

We do not necessarily think about it, must say that it is not obvious. But our savings also have their carbon footprint. And not just a little. Depending on the bank where it is placed, money can become the main source of CO2 emissions, says Oxfam, who proposes an online calculator to allow everyone to make the estimate.

When the average annual carbon footprint of a French person is 11.2 tons CO2 equivalent (eqCO2) per year, that of his savings would climb to 16 tons eqCO2 per year for 25,000 euros placed with Société Générale, calculates the NGO. It’s 15 tons eqCO2 at BNP Paribas, 11 tons at Crédit Agricole… compared to 8.8 tons at La Banque Postale.

The imperative to stop investing in new fossil projects

Everything therefore depends on how these establishments use the savings of their clients. This is the whole ambivalence of banks, which play a key role in the climate equation. “They are essential for financing the transition, but can also contribute to aggravating climate change, by financing the development of activities incompatible with international objectives”, explains Reclaim Finance, NGO which examines the impact of finance on the climate. To see more clearly, it launches this Monday changedebank.org, site that helps to sort out the French banks that continue to aggravate the climate crisis and those that offer responsible alternatives.

Not easy indeed to navigate while in recent years, financial actors have multiplied climate commitments. And the big French banks are not left out. They all joined the Net-Zero Banking Alliancewhich has set itself the objective of carbon neutrality by 2050, with a reduction of their emissions by 50% by 2030. coal, oil or gas,” recalls Lucie Pinson, Director of Reclaim Finance.

This imperative to get out of fossil fuels is gradually taking root in people’s minds. Several steps have been taken in this direction by the Statesat the COP26 in Glasgow, in November. A few months earlier, the very influential International Energy Agency (IEA)) called for no further investment, as of now, in new oil or gas installations in a report that caused a stir.

A gap between rhetoric and action?

But we are not there yet… “Between 2016 [au lendemain de l’accord de Paris] and 2021, the major French banks – from BNP Paribas to Natixis* via Crédit Agricole or Société Générale – have allocated more than 350 billion dollars to fossil fuels,” laments Lucie Pinson. Enough to make the place of Paris the first support of the EU for this industry, following closely on London, specified the 2022 edition of the “Banking on climate chaos”, written by a coalition of European NGOs specializing in climate finance, including Reclaim Finance.

This source of money is still not dried up, for Lucie Pinson. “As much as French banks have put themselves in working order on coal, they continue to financially support projects or companies that continue to develop in gas and oil,” she explains. A textbook case for Reclaim Finance: Total Energies. Admittedly, the French oil company is turning more and more to renewables. “But the problem is the non-earmarked financial support that French banks continue to allocate to Total,” continues Lucie Pinson. However, the major still devotes 70% of its investment expenditure to oil and gas, particularly in projects that are climate bombs. ” Notably “EACOP”which intends to connect Uganda to Tanzania by the largest heated pipeline (1,443 km]in the world.

This is the whole idea of ​​change-de-banque.org: to provide the keys to understanding this link between finance and climate, and those to act in order to reduce the carbon impact of one’s savings. “We have an increased number of banking players and neobanks [dont les services sont accessibles principalement en ligne] who take the opposite view of traditional banks by showing a real ambition to play a major role in the ecological transition and to give a positive impact to the money of their customers”, observes Lucie Pinson.

“Generate a collective momentum”

The perfect green bank does not exist, insists Changedebanque.org. But by analyzing the way in which the funds are managed, the guarantees given or their partnership relationship with other banking establishments, Reclaim Finance highlights four responsible alternatives: the Banque Postale, the Cooperative Credit neobanks Helios and Green Got. The NGO also highlights LITA.co, a European group that has been organizing fundraising since 2014 for companies that demonstrate a social or environmental impact. Or The New Fraternal Bank (La Nef)a financial cooperative that collects savings to finance projects with a social, ecological or cultural impact.

The whole hope of change-ta-banque.org is to encourage people to take action. A tab even lets you inform your bank adviser of your decision to change banks. “And the site is not just for individuals,” says Lucie Pinson. We worked on various profiles – student, business leader, community or foundation representative. The challenge, beyond the individual action represented by changing banks, is to generate collective momentum. »

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