French insurer CNP to stop financing new oil and gas projects

A pump jack lifts oil out of a well during a sandstorm in Midland
REUTERS/Ann Saphir
  • Will also stop investing in companies that do
  • Follows recommendations from landmark IEA report
  • Will back those firms' green bonds, renewables

LONDON, Feb 17 (Reuters) - France's CNP Assurances (CNPP.PA) will no longer finance new oil and gas projects or invest more money in companies planning to do so, joining the growing ranks of insurers taking a more pro-active approach to tackling global warming.

The company said it was acting in response to scientific reports, including one by the International Energy Agency, which said new projects weren't needed if the world wanted to limit global warming to 1.5 degree Celsius above pre-industrial norms.

"To achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement (on tackling global warming), it is necessary to gradually reduce the use of fossil fuels," Olivier Guigné, CNP's group investment director said in a statement on the company's website dated Feb. 16.

"The measures adopted today by CNP Assurances aim to contribute to this."

Under the new plan, however, CNP said it would still finance subsidiaries of energy companies dedicated exclusively to renewable projects, and invest in green bonds.

Going forward, CNP said it would publicly disclose its holdings in the oil and gas sector on an annual basis.

At a U.N. climate conference in November, banks, insurers and investors with $130 trillion at their disposal pledged to put combating climate change at the centre of their work. read more

French public bank Banque Postale committed in October to stop providing services to the oil and gas sector by 2030. However, most banks and insurers continue to finance the sector with no restrictions. read more

For those companies in which it has an existing stake, CNP said it would ask them to immediately stop any new exploration or production of oil or gas, and lobby governments to end subsidies to the sector and help curtail demand for the fuels.

On thermal coal, a leading cause of manmade global warming, CNP said it would stop new direct investments in companies that do not have a plan to phase out its use by 2030 in OECD countries and 2040 in the rest of the world.

"By requesting that companies they invest in immediately halt oil and gas expansion, CNP Assurances’ policy becomes best practice and a case in point that serious engagement strategies and ambitious exclusions go hand in hand," said Guillaume Pottier, stewardship campaigner at Reclaim Finance.

Reporting by Simon Jessop Editing by Mark Potter

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.