In France, green finance is still in its infancy

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The Minister of the Environment, Ségolène Royal, before the vote on the energy transition law in the National Assembly, July 22, 2015, in Paris.
The Minister of the Environment, Ségolène Royal, before the vote on the energy transition law in the National Assembly, July 22, 2015, in Paris. JOEL SAGET / AFP

France has no reason to be ashamed of the efforts it has made since 2015 to push the financial sphere to play the card of the energy transition and the fight against global warming. In that year, Article 173 of the Energy Transition Law gives a first impetus to green finance by requiring institutional investors to publish information on the integration of environmental criteria into their investment policy. Labels have also been developed to certify the commitments of investment funds.

Three years later, however, it is clear that only € 22.6 billion was invested by funds devoted to the energy transition, created by banks, management companies or insurers located in France, according to a study by Sia Partners.

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It is essentially equity funds (19.1 billion euros) and, more marginally, investments in green bonds ("green bonds", for 1.6 billion euros). euros), these non-bank loans issued on the financial markets by companies, public institutions or states to finance "green" projects.

In comparison, the asset manager of the Crédit Agricole group, Amundi, has more than € 1.4 trillion in assets under management. The main players in green finance in France are, according to Sia Partners, management companies (Pictet AM, BlackRock …) and asset managers of major banks (BNP Paribas, Amundi …).

Expanding market

These figures, however, reflect only part of the total investment in France in the ecological transition by financial institutions. In this expanding market, which is just beginning to structure itself, initiatives are flourishing on all sides and measuring efforts in "sustainable" assets remains a challenge.

AXA thus claims more than 10 billion euros of green investments at the end of September 2018, but which did not go through dedicated funds. BNP Paribas, for its part, highlights its leading position among green bond issuers (€ 5.8 billion of green bonds placed) and indicates that it has financed renewable energies to the tune of 12.3 billion at the end of 2017.