New sustainable finance projects in hydrocarbons soon to be excluded from the ISR label

By Le Figaro with AFP

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The ISR label rewards sustainable investment funds. JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP

The Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire is tightening access to this label created in 2016.

From March 2024, funds investing in companies exploiting coal or unconventional hydrocarbons or launching new hydrocarbon-related projects will no longer be eligible for the “Socially responsible investment» (ISR), announced Tuesday the Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire.

We must offer a simple and effective label to allow the French to give meaning to their savings. This is what we are doing with this new ISR label, of which the fight against global warming is becoming essential.», declared Bruno Le Maire in a press release. “We will thus allow savers to take the ecological transition into account and businesses to finance their decarbonization more easily.“, he added. The main reference in France for identifying sustainable funds, the ISR label, created in 2016, is currently awarded to 1,174 funds with total ets of 773 billion euros. The committee that manages this label has been considering new rules for more than two years, after accusations of “inevitable loss of credibility and relevance» of this label formulated in a report from the General Inspectorate of Finance. He proposed in July to exclude companies developing new unconventional fossil fuel projects, that is to say more difficult to exploit such as shale gas, oil from tar sands, exploitation in the Arctic …

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The Minister of the Economy went further on Tuesday by announcing the exclusion also of any new exploration, exploitation or refining project linked to hydrocarbons, including conventional ones (oil, gas). The new eligibility criteria will be published by the end of November for entry into force on March 1, 2024, according to the Bercy press release. At the end of October, NGOs and climate specialists called for toughening the ISR label by excluding oil companies, in order to maintain its credibility. The new version “is a major step forward for this label in search of credibility and a clear and welcome signal sent ahead of COP28 on the urgency of getting rid of financing from fossil fuels» estimates Antoine Laurent, France advocacy manager of the NGO Reclaim Finance.

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