An absolute need to commit
Regarding the major transformations in our society, which are generating considerable, and even vital, social and environmental issues, the Crédit Agricole Group is fully aware of its role and responsibilities.
It has clearly positioned itself as a company committed to fostering and implementing responsible finance aimed at producing positive effects for a more inclusive and lower-carbon economy.
A national and global commitment
On 22 September, Crédit Agricole S.A. adhered to the Principles for Responsible Banking at the United Nations General Assembly. These principles open the way to a transformation of the global banking sector towards a more inclusive and sustainable model. At the same time, Crédit Agricole S.A. joined the UN Collective Commitment to Climate Action, which sets out the concrete measures that banks need to take to strengthen their contributions.
A few weeks earlier, at the G7 summit in France, Crédit Agricole joined the Business for Inclusive Growth (B4IG) initiative alongside 33 other global groups, thus demonstrating its commitment to contribute to the lasting reduction of inequalities and foster more inclusive and sustainable growth.
At the end of 2018, Crédit Agricole committed together with 12 other major groups to make day-to-day life easier for the French population. This is in addition to the previously-announced price freezes for 2019 and the capping of fees at €25 for all vulnerable clients. The initiative comprises five measures on the prevention of financial difficulties, the management of budgets and everyday expenditure, the integration of young people and access to employment.
A growing number of concrete actions
To have any value, the commitments made obviously need to be followed by impacts. A number of highly concrete actions have already been taken at the Group. Following are a few of those initiatives.
- The strengthening of the Green Finance and Responsible Investment strategy of Amundi, which has launched several initiatives aimed at redirecting capital flows towards investments in the energy transition. This includes open funds in green bonds, equity solutions targeting the reduction of carbon risk, and the formation of innovative partnerships, including with IFC, AIIB and EIB, with a view to helping clients to align their portfolios with low-carbon economies. Amundi has also formed two partnerships with the EDF utility and the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) to fund green infrastructure and help to finance tomorrow’s green companies.
- The highly concrete integration of major sustainable development issues at Crédit Agricole CIB, including the structuring of new financing dedicated to the energy transition, totalling €114 billion between 2016 and 2018, as well as the systematic estimation of the carbon footprint stemming from financing and investments. It has also marketed positive-impact products, having arranged €48.1 billion in green, social and sustainable bonds for its key accounts in 2018, and is contributing to sustainable and innovative financing.
- The increasing commitment to renewable energies of Unifergie, the Crédit Agricole Leasing & Factoring subsidiary dedicated to financing energies and territories. At end-2018, Unifergie had financed 5510 MW of electricity for over €4.5 billion in financing, equivalent to the annual consumption of 2.1 million households, thanks to solar power (39%), wind power (33%), energy performance (15%), biomass (10%) and hydroelectric and geothermal power (3%).
- Support from the Crédit Agricole Solidarity and Development Foundation for large-scale national initiatives, including Territoires zéro chômeur de longue durée (TZCLD, long-term zero unemployment territories). To make it possible for people in situations of poverty to (re)construct their lives through work, TZCLD creates “employment-targeted companies” that recruit job-seekers having been unemployed for over a year on long-term contracts.
- Development of actions aimed at facilitating digital access for all: given the size of the digital challenge, at the end of 2018 Crédit Agricole signed the Inclusive Digital Commitment Charter. Regional Banks are committed to adding more and more value at regional level. They are identifying where support is needed, raising awareness, and supporting customers and non-customers alike: some are providing dedicated in-branch spaces (such as, for example, those being trialled in Franche-Comté, Normandie Seine and Brie Picardie) and helping citizens with online administrative procedures.
- Support for social and socially-responsible businesses from Amundi, and notably Amundi Finance and Solidarity, France’s number-one social and socially-responsible investment fund with €250 million in assets under management. One million savers entrust Amundi with €3.5 billion in socially-responsible employee savings.
- Development of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation committed to the fight against poverty in emerging countries. The Foundation now works in nearly 40 countries. The Foundation’s assets under management will soon attain €100 million, in favour of nearly 80 microfinance institutions and numerous social-business companies.