PARIS, May 20 (Reuters) - French bank Credit Agricole said on Wednesday it would no longer finance coal mining or miners as lenders grow increasingly uneasy about funding coal due to environmental concerns.
The decision, announced at a shareholder meeting in the former coal-mining city of Lille in northern France, won praise from environmental groups who have been pressuring banks to cut off loans to coal miners.
“Credit Agricole SA has taken the decision to no longer finance coal mining projects or companies specialised in this field,” outgoing Chief Executive Jean-Paul Chifflet told shareholders.
He said that the decision also meant that France’s third-largest listed bank, which is traditionally strong in infrastructure financing, would not lend funds for so-called mountaintop removal, a technique which involves using explosives to expose coal seams.
Bank of America said earlier this month that it was cutting back its lending to coal companies over time, acknowledging the risk that future regulation and competition from natural gas pose on the industry.
French bank Societe Generale said on Wednesday that it would only continue to finance coal mines that respected the environment, excluding opencast mines like those in mountaintop removals.
France’s second-biggest listed bank also said it would only finance coal-fired power plants subject to CO2 emission caps. (Reporting by Leigh Thomas, Editing by Dominique Vidalon)