The French BNP Paribas is a leading provider of retail, investment and corporate banking services on the European market, claiming to base its business on economic, social, civic and environmental responsibility.1 The Group is a participant of the UN Global Compact, the UN Principles for Responsible Investment and becomes actively involved in the Equator Principles III Review Process.2 Yet, BNP Paribas has financial ties with 22 out of the 25 companies investigated in the Dirty Profits 3 report, constituting one of the major providers of loans and underwriter of shares and bonds for controversial companies investigated in this report.
As the Equator Principles only apply to financing of projects, but not to export and corporate finance and as the Equator Principles lack accountability mechanisms and transparency, they are criticised for their limited scope6. Thus members of the Equator Principles should not rely on this instrument to adequately include ESG criteria in their investment activities.
The Dirty Profits 3 report has found that BNP Paribas is heavily invested in fossil energy providers, heavy industries and mining operators associated with environmental destruction and climate change. Since January 2012, BNP Paribas has issued loans to Gazprom, Royal Dutch Shell and RWE totalling €777 million, accompanied by the issuance of shares and bonds for Gazprom, Vattenfall and Shell amounting €3,138 million. The combined values of shares and bonds managed for the fossil energy providers Shell, Chevron and Gazprom exceed €896 million. These numbers illustrate the heavy investment of BNP Paribas in fossil fuels, disregarding its claim that the bank “has made combating climate change the cornerstone of its environmental responsibility” and corroborating BNP Paribas’ rating among the Top 20 “Climate Killer Banks” by BankTrack. Besides issuing policies on nuclear energy, oil sands and some other sectors,no specific guidelines have been issued to prove this commitment towards combating climate change and the Group’s financing and investment guidelines concerning power-generation are only applicable to coal-fired electricity generation. Providing financial services for Vattenfall, who has recently been critiqued on its plans to open a coal-fired power plant in Germany, is approved under the Group’s policy on coal-fired power generation. This policy states that “BNP Paribas, as a provider of financial services, may support companies / countries that wish to develop their coal-fired power capacities”.
Acknowledging its environmental responsibility deriving from its direct and indirect business activities, BNP has “drawn up detailed criteria relating to financing and investment in sensitive fields of industry and trade”.3 Consistent with the Equator Principles, environmental, social and governance (ESG) impact assessments are applied to all project financing exceeding USD 10 million, complemented by sector-specific policies that are supposed to mitigate risks and “ensure that the Bank only supports environmentally responsible projects”.4
The above policy analysis for BNP Paribas is extracted from the harmful investments in Dirty Profits 3 (published December 2014). Further information on their policies is available in the dirty profits 3 report page 81.
BNP Paribas was once again included in the Dirty Profits 4 report, details of the financial ties to selected controversial companies can be found within the report and detailed data tables from the research period 2013-2015 can be downloaded here.
For detailed information related to the companies BNP Paribas had financial ties to between 2012 and 2014, as published in Dirty Profits 3, the full PROFUNDO data table is available to download here.
For detailed information related to investments in controversial companies over the research period 2011- 2013, please see the publication Dirty Profits 2. Detailed data tables are available to download here.
For detailed information regarding the companies that BNP Paribas was invested in over the research period of Dirty Profits 1, please refer to the PROFUNDO research report links below. The PROFUNDO report, (conducted between 2010 and 2012), analyzes the investments between BNP Paribas (and many other financial institutes) and controversial companies.
- BNP Paribas Annual Report 2013 http://annualreport.bnpparibas.com/2013/ra/BNPParibas_2013_Annual_Report.pdf [↩]
- BNP Paribas 2012 Reporting on Equator Principles Implementation http://www.bnpparibas.com/sites/default/files/ckeditor-upload/files/PDF/2012-05%20Reporting%20on%20Equator%20Principles%20Implementation%20for%20the%20year%202011%20%28final%29.pdf [↩]
- BNP Paribas 2014 BNP Paribas’ Charter http://www.bnpparibas.com/en/responsible-bank/bnp-paribas-charter [↩]
- BNP Paribas (2014) Sectoral Policies http://www.bnpparibas.com/en/sectoral-policies and BNP Paribas (2014) Being a responsible bank http://www.bnpparibas.com/en/being-responsible-bank-csr-policy-bnp-paribas/bnp-paribas-charter/being-responsible-bank [↩]