Dirty Diesel report - Reply to BankTrack
23/05/2017 - Societe Generale’s role in financing the real economy makes it aware of the environmental, social and economic convergence issues at play within its sphere of influence and makes it intent to factor them into its business. At a minimum, Societe Generale requests its clients to comply with the E&S laws and regulations of each relevant country. Beyond, all environmental and social (E&S) commitments of the Bank are set out in the E&S General Guidelines that constitute the global reference framework for applying evaluation procedures. Regarding human rights, the General Guidelines list the initiatives that Societe Generale is committed to respect as the UN Global Compact, the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprise and the UN Principles on Business and Human Rights.
Societe Generale serves the global natural resources and energy markets. As part of this large business activity, trade finance teams provide short and medium term financing to clients underpinned by commodity trade flows.
The bank implements E&S (including human rights) due diligence through procedures enabling identification, evaluation, and, where relevant, prevention of risks, both at transaction and client relationship levels. This E&S due diligence is commensurate to the clients’ activities, their location and their positioning in the value chain. Information from the civil society plays an important role at the identification stage.
As Societe Generale clients, Trafigura and Vitol have gone through the above described process. Information of the last few months regarding the quality of car fuels in African countries and debates around the role of the different actors of the value chain have been factored in our reviews.
The involvement of Societe Generale with these companies is global and the credit amounts the report is referring to are general purpose lines which globally finance Trafigura and Vitol. Their trading of diesel in Africa is only a fraction of a much wider activity.
Nevertheless, the issue of high-sulphur diesel in Africa has been an important part of the on-going dialogue with these companies in the last few months. Societe Generale shares the view that strengthening the fuel standards in the African countries where such evolution has not yet started, will be the most effective way to tackle the issue and will be part of the solution to raising air quality in Africa. At this stage, the Bank intends to continue the dialogue with its clients and better engage with them and institutions and organizations such as the African Refinery Association, the Climate and Clean Air Coalition or the UNEP Partnership for Clean Fuels and Vehicles, that are already active on this matter, and more broadly on access to energy in Africa.
The Dakota Access Pipeline project in the USA
22/05/2017 - Societe Generale is one of the 17 banks initially involved in the financing of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) project located in the United States of America.
In the framework of its business activities, Societe Generale only supports projects that are in compliance with all the rules and regulations in the jurisdiction in which it operates and in accordance with the Group’s Environmental and Social General Guidelines and the Equator Principles adopted by 90 financial institutions for determining, assessing and managing environmental and social risk. In all of its business activities, Societe Generale condemns violence and violation of human rights.
The decision to support the DAPL project was made on the basis of a comprehensive due diligence process that included independent reviews from various counsels, and that legal, technical, environmental, social and regulatory matters were and continue to be in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. In light of protests following the project financing, Societe Generale carried out discussions with a representative of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to better understand their concerns. Alongside the other lending banks, we also supported the commissioning of an independent human rights expert, Foley Hoag LLP, to conduct a further social impact study on the project, advise the lenders in their understanding of the complexities of the DAPL situation and provide recommendations to sponsors to consider in the future.
A summary of these recommendations was made public. Societe Generale will take them into account in the future when reviewing projects with similar issues.
In February 2017, the US Administration confirmed the project’s satisfaction of all regulatory requirements and granted the final easement to the project. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has since exercised the recourse afforded to it by the US judicial system. We continue to closely monitor the situation and urge all parties to reach a peaceful resolution.
In line with its business practices, Societe Generale explores ways to positively influence the projects it is involved in and help the industry evolve. Our bank believes it is important that lessons learned by all stakeholders in the Dakota Access Pipeline are considered in projects and project financings going forward.
As a result, Societe Generale has teamed up with other members of the Equator Principles Association to ask the association to rapidly adapt the current risk assessment framework with regard to the rights of indigenous peoples, in line with international best practices.
22/02/2017 - Societe Generale is one of several banks involved in the financing of the Dakota Access Pipeline project located in the United States of America.
In the framework of its business activities, Societe Generale only supports projects that are in compliance with all the rules and regulations in the jurisdiction in which it operates, and in accordance with the Group’s Environmental and Social General Guidelines and with the Equator Principles adopted by financial institutions for determining, assessing and managing environmental and social risk.
The Bank is however concerned by the protests this project has generated, and has raised theses views with the client and the other lenders. Furthermore, Societe Generale is one of the banks that had discussions with a representative of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.
Societe Generale took note of the recent US government decision to issue all necessary easements which give the green light to complete the construction of the project.
The Bank cannot withdraw from the project due to its contractual commitment to the financing alongside other French and international banks. It is therefore not legally possible to step away at this stage.
Societe Generale will continue to closely monitor the situation. The Bank urges all parties to reach a peaceful resolution within respect of the rule of law, through processes afforded by the Court system.
02/12/2016 - Financing of the Dakota Access Pipeline project in the USA
Societe Generale is one of several banks involved in the financing of the Dakota Access Pipeline project located in the United States of America.
In the framework of its business activities, Societe Generale only supports projects that are in compliance with all the rules and regulations in the jurisdiction in which it operates and in accordance with the Group’s Environmental and Social (E&S) General Guidelines and with the risk management framework of the Equator Principles adopted by financial institutions for determining, assessing and managing environmental and social risk. These principles include respect of human rights, and in particular of the rights of indigenous people.
In light of the protests against the construction of the project, and in particular the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s views that their rights have not been respected, Societe Generale has raised these views with the project’s sponsors. The bank will continue to closely monitor the situation with the project’s sponsors and the other lenders.
On 4th December , US federal administration decided to halt construction, calling for a full environmental review and re-evaluation of whether the pipeline’s route should be altered. (Updated 12/04/2016)
In order to assist and seek a resolution, Foley Hoag LLP, an independent human rights expert, has been retained to advise the lenders to the Dakota Access Pipeline and to review various matters related to the permitting process, including compliance with applicable law related to consultations with Native Americans. This review will include the evaluation of policies and procedures employed by the project’s sponsors, in the areas of security, human rights, community engagement and cultural heritage. Following this review, the independent expert will develop recommendations for improvements in line with international standards with respect to the sponsors’ social policies and procedures going forward. The lenders understand that the sponsors will review and consider all of the recommendations.
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.