A report this month by Oxfam and Friends of the Earth has described the environmental impact of large French banks as 'colossal'.
Last year, fossil fuel emissions from four major French banks—BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole, Société Générale and BPCE—funded the equivalent of almost 18 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions through their investments in companies like oil giant Total. Combined, that’s more than four and a half times the annual emissions generated by the entire French economy.
In fact, each bank on its own had a carbon footprint greater than France.
“Without ambitious climate action, 100 million people could fall into extreme poverty by 2030,” claimed the report, “yet the four major French multinational banks, which appear in the top 20 worldwide and in the top 10 in Europe, support and aggravate the global energy system’s addiction to coal, oil and gas.”
For comparison, Alex de Vries, founder of bitcoin energy consumption index Digiconomist, estimates the global carbon emissions of the Bitcoin industry alone is 34 million tonnes, almost double that attributed to the French banks. However, these figures are calculated backwards from bitcoin’s hashrate and not gathered from the miners themselves.
But it may not be all bad. A study by Coinshares—which invests in cryptocurrencies—claims that 74% of the power used for bitcoin mining is generated using renewable energy. But this report similarly uses approximations, such as regional averages, to derive this figure.