Today, Thursday, February 23, 2023, Friends of the Earth France, Notre Affaire à Tous and Oxfam France are taking BNP Paribas to court for failure to comply with its duty of vigilance regarding climate change. This lawsuit is unprecedented because it is the first time that a bank will have to go to court for its contribution to climate change.
After having been put on notice last October to stop supporting new fossil fuel projects, the French bank has still not complied with the law. Yet BNP Paribas’ record on climate issues stands out sadly: it is the most polluting bank in France, but also the leading European funder of fossil fuel development between 2016 and 2021. It is because of big banks like BNP Paribas that new climate bombs, such as the oil and gas projects developed by Total, Shell or ENI can be created. Without financial support, multinational fossil fuel companies would not be able to develop new fossil fuel projects and continue to fuel our dependence on coal, oil and gas.
Following our formal notice, BNP Paribas’ responses have remained largely insufficient. The bank continues to reject the urgent request of our three associations to stop supporting new oil and gas projects, a request that has though been made by the IPCC scientists and that was recently reiterated by António Guterres, the Secretary General of the United Nations. The bank also helped oil and gas giant BP issue a US$2.5 billion bond on February 9. As a reminder, the oil and gas projects that BP is planning in the short term would emit as much greenhouse gas as 6 new coal-fired power plants over their entire lifetime. It only took a few days for BNP to prove us that behind its “new climate announcements” at the end of January, the bank has no intention of getting on the right track.
Faced with BNP Paribas’ refusal to align its commitments with the need to limit global warming to 1.5°C, we have decided to go further by launching an unprecedented legal action! Our action is based on the duty of vigilance law, adopted in France in 2017, which obliges multinationals to take measures to identify and prevent the risks of serious violations of human rights, human health and safety, and the environment, caused by their own activities and those of their subsidiaries, as well as those of their main suppliers and subcontractors, both in France and abroad.
This historic trial opens a new page in the history of climate justice. We can only write this page together. Support the BNP Paribas case by signing the petition, sharing it with others, and relaying our messages to your friends and family. Let’s make as much noise as possible!