Societe Generale’s position following several NGO actions
14/09/2018 - Societe Generale and other financial institutions were the target of a media campaign by several NGOs. These targeted campaigns unfairly denigrate Societe Generale's commitments and the action it has taken to fight global warming in the last few years.
What is Societe Generale's policy when it comes to fighting global warming?
The actions reported in the media unfairly denigrate the commitments and work accomplished by the Bank in recent years. Societe Generale has made strong commitments in support of the climate, with the aim of aligning our activities with the 2°C target. We were one of the first international banks to stop funding coal projects, and subsequently bolstered our commitment by withdrawing from the extraction of oil from tar sands worldwide and from the production of oil in the Arctic region. The Bank also set a target to help raise €100bn in funding to back the energy transition effort and we confirmed our intention to step up our efforts in the renewable energy sector, in which we are one of the leading players with over 10 years' experience in the field.
This summer, we announced that 50% of our target had already been fulfilled.
These decisions mark an important milestone for the Bank in the battle against global warming. Societe Generale's climate protection policy is recognised by non-financial rating agencies and places us among the front-ranking players in this area. We have just been awarded the highest CSR rating of all the French banks by Robecosam, for example.
Fighting global warming and supporting energy transition are among the top priorities in the CSR commitments we have built into our strategy plan.
What is Societe Generale's role in the Rio Grande project in the US?
The NGOs are specifically criticising our role in the Rio Grande LNG project, in the US. Located in the state of Texas, the project involves the construction of a natural gas pipeline, a natural gas liquefaction plant, and a liquefied gas export terminal. This project is developed by the company NextDecade, a company specialising in the development and management of onshore and floating liquefied natural gas projects. NextDecade has mandated Societe Generale, along with Macquarie, as its financial advisors for the development of the Rio Grande project. As an advisor bank, Societe Generale's role is to provide financial services to its client to support them with the best possible development of their project. Contrary to the NGOs' claims, Societe Generale does not provide any financing and is ensuring all the required impact assessments are conducted.
What is Societe Generale's relationship with NGOs?
Contrary to what the NGOs may lead people to believe, Societe Generale has an active policy of listening to all stakeholders and pays the greatest attention to the queries it receives, including from NGOs that alert about Environmental & Social issues in its sphere of influence. The bank is deeply committed to pursuing this dialogue in a constructive and progress-driven approach.
A number of NGOs, including Attac, have criticised the French banks, including Societe Generale, for their taxation practices and the roles they play in creating offshore companies for their clients. What is the bank's position on this issue?
Societe Generale's Tax Code of Conduct in respect of business taxation, which was approved by the Board of Directors in November 2010 and updated in 2017, sets out the Group's guiding principles for the action it takes in respect of its operations: Societe Generale neither encourages nor promotes tax evasion, whether on its own account or that of its subsidiaries or customers.
The outlandish data reported by this NGO is in no way representative of either Societe Generale's business activity or the policy it has been pursuing for several years to battle fraud and tax evasion.
Meanwhile, we would like to point out that Societe Generale is careful to pay taxes at the applicable rate in each of the countries in which it operates and is not pursuing an aggressive tax optimisation strategy. In fiscal 2017, the Group paid over €2.2bn in tax and duties worldwide, of which €1.3bn in France.
22/05/2018 - As one of the world leaders in energy financing, Societe Generale has been involved in the energy transition for several years, and has adopted a proactive climate policy consistent with the 2°C scenario of the International Energy Agency (IEA). Our climate policy, ranked 93/100 by RobecoSAM positions us in the leading group of non-financial rating agency rankings.
At the end of 2017, the bank announced that it had set itself the objective to contribute to raising €100 billion in financing for the energy transition between 2016 and 2020, and we have confirmed our acceleration in the renewable energy sector, where we are among the leaders, with more than 10 years of experience. We already have contributed by raising €39bn on this objective, including €30bn of green bonds and €9bn through advisory and financing to the renewable energy sector.
We have been a pioneer in launching last year a consolidated “Sustainable and Positive Impact Finance” offering within the Global Banking & Investor Solutions activities which incorporates the bank’s Environmental & Social (E&S) expertise into a wide range of innovative financial solutions that satisfy the E&S requirements and challenges of its issuer and investor clients.
We strengthen our environmental and social commitments on a regular basis in a progress-driven and responsible energy transition approach. Thus, we recently published an updated Oil & Gas sector policy to reflect our commitments at the end of 2017 to support our clients of the sector in a responsible way and minimise climate and environmental impacts.
Click here to read the Oil and Gas sector policy
Reply letter to the Les Amis de la Terre association
26/02/2018 - Following our meeting with Les Amis de la Terre France on January 22nd, 2018 and the letter you sent us on February 2nd, we would like to bring some clarifications to your attention.
Regarding the commitments made by Societe Generale in December 2017 on the Oil and Gas sector and in particular the exclusion of oil sands and Arctic oil, we are currently working on their integration in our Oil and Gas Sector Policy which will be made public in the coming weeks. As we have indicated, this commitment will go beyond the exclusion of dedicated transactions to also cover the financing of companies primarily involved in the extraction of oil sands and Arctic oil.
As for gas production and transportation and processing infrastructure (including LNG), we seek for our E&S commitments to integrate the issues related to climate change. The scenarios of the International Energy Agency are an important reference for Societe Generale. We noted the new "Sustainable development" scenario in the IEA report published last November, which seeks to reconcile environmental objectives (management of local pollution particularly in Asia), climate (the Paris Agreement) and development (access to energy).
The IEA report highlights the significant efforts that can be made to reduce methane leakages in the production and transportation chain of the entire Oil and Gas sector. As a consequence, Societe Generale has made commitments on this aspect in December. The forthcoming policy will specify the evaluation criteria for limiting methane leaks and flaring.
It will also reflect the new Group commitments regarding the respect of the rights of indigenous populations.
Regarding the Rio Grande LNG/Rio Bravo Pipeline project (the "Project"), there is an ongoing process of evaluation and approbation by the relevant US federal and state authorities. As such, the sponsor NextDecade filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to site, construct and operate the Project in May 2016. This request launched the formal regulatory “scoping period” by the National Environment Protection Agency. During this period, all local communities have the opportunity to voice their opinions and concerns about the Project. This process comes in addition to the outreach activities already conducted by NextDecade towards stakeholders including communities of indigenous tribes recognized by the state of Texas or federal authorities. The information we have received to date indicates that the Project has not identified any area under protection status, that no federally protected species were encountered during field surveys conducted by NextDecade, and that no archaeological or culturally significant sites have been identified within the Project site.
We invite you to share with us any additional information you may have before we organise a meeting about the Project, together with your partners from the Save Rio Valley From LNG coalition and the Rainforest Action Network.
Concerning the Coal sector, the methodology for the monitoring of the Group's activity in the sector was presented to you last year, and has since been formalised. We have included the results to the elements that have been provided to EY, the third-party auditor of Societe Generale CSR information. The 2017 monitoring results will be integrated in the Group’s Registration Document to be published in a few weeks. The methodology is based on our knowledge of a client’s activity at group level, but also on information related to the specifically funded subsidiary, or underlying asset in the case of dedicated transactions. This additional level of detail means that a transaction for a renewable project, or to a subsidiary specialised in renewables will not be counted in our follow-up as having a coal component (conversely, a transaction at the corporate level will be assigned to the coal share of the client group in the monitoring). This approach brings in significant differences with regard to the results of the studies focused on a group characteristics, such as those that you publish. As we see it, our "real" exposure to coal is much less than what these studies reflect. It should be noted that we also analyse the climate strategies of the client groups as part of our environmental and social assessments, and that we take into consideration in this context the information that you and your partners address to us.
We organise meetings with representatives from the civil society, including Friends of the Earth and Banktrack, several times a year on the environmental and social impacts related to Societe General financing activities. This dialogue, together with the information brought to our attention are systematically taken into account in our E&S evaluation of the transactions and clients. In parallel, the Group’s E&S evaluation framework is regularly adapted based on our exchanges with civil society but also on our relationship with other stakeholders such as colleagues from the financial sector, extra-financial rating agencies, investors, and of course, our clients.
The Bank plays an active short- and long-term role in supporting the economy and remains attentive to stakeholders with influence on the banking sector. Shareholders, customers, investors or suppliers, the consideration of our stakeholders is at the heart of our responsible approach.