Commercial Bank Hit With ‘World’s First Climate Lawsuit’

Credits: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

Three NGOs are starting what they say is “the world’s first climate lawsuit against a bank” against the French BNP Paribas (of which the Belgian State is a major shareholder) because the bank continues to provide financial support to new gas and oil projects, reports Oxfam.

World’s first climate lawsuit

The lawsuit is the unsurprising next step after the NGOs already officially held BNP Paribas in contempt – the first step for possible legal proceedings – in October 2022. They blame the major French bank, which is the parent company of the Belgian BNP Paribas Fortis, for continuing to invest in new activities in the oil and gas sector.

BNP Paribas is the largest fossil fuel developer in Europe and the fifth largest globally,” the NGOs, Friends of the Earth France, Notre Affaire à Tous and Oxfam France, said in a joint statement. “Therefore, the bank contributes to the climate crisis and is not fulfilling its duty of care.”

Since 2017, the French duty of care law requires large companies to take measures to prevent human rights violations and environmental degradation. “Given its significant contribution to the climate crisis, the bank will have to answer to the court,” the NGOs said.

Fossil-fuel financing

After the notice in October, BNP Paribas had three months to put itself in order, but the NGOs state that this did not happen. The bank already announced that it would reduce its exposure to oil and gas extraction by 2030, but that is considered insufficient.

BNP Paribas continues to write new blank checks to the largest fossil fuel companies without any conditions for a transition away from oil and gas,” said Oxfam France. “Instead of making concrete commitments to respect basic scientific requirements, the bank contributes to creating doubt about the scientific consensus.”

Therefore, the NGOs have opted for “a historic trial” in Paris and “are determined to obtain a binding verdict from the court.”

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Source: Oxfam


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