Lucie Pinson is a French activist who has persuaded some of the country’s largest banks and insurance companies, including AXA, to stop funding coal. She founded Reclaim Finance, a non-governmental research and campaigning organization that scrutinizes the climate strategies of fossil fuel companies to provide the financial sector with data to make investment decisions that are good for the planet.
What is the single most important action you think the public, or a specific company or government, needs to take in the next year to advance the climate agenda?
Financial institutions must stop financing, insuring, or investing in new fossil fuel expansion. There is no more debate. The top authorities on this subject—the United Nations, leading scientists, and the International Energy Agency—are all agreed. We can meet the world’s energy needs and contain global warming to 1.5°C without developing new fossil fuel projects. Financing those is criminal, especially when thousands of people are suffering climate impacts, and when the world already faces an immense challenge of closing fossil fuel plants quickly and fairly. Alternatives exist, they need to be financed to flourish.
What sustainability effort do you hope will gain popularity with the general public this year, and why?
I want to see more people moving their money away from the banks that are greenwashing their investments in new fossil fuels projects. Choosing the wrong bank can wipe out all the other benefits of walking and cycling, eating plant-based and local food and buying less. Financing the shift to renewables is expensive, but it is within our power. People are looking to make more ethical choices. By switching our money away from banks with dirty investments, we can push the financial sector to shift trillions of dollars towards sustainable energy.
Where should climate activism go in the next year?
Climate activism often focuses on individual polluting projects, but it makes sense to focus on the banking industry. There are hundreds of new fossil fuel projects that need to be stopped and even more that need to be closed, but just a few dozen banks that make them possible. So, arithmetically, it makes sense to focus far more on the banks financing companies like ExxonMobil, TotalEnergies, and Shell, who are creating new climate bombs. These banks are on every high street, and this means that we have the power to act locally to influence what they do globally.
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