Churches call on the SNB about the climate

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The Swiss National Bank (SNB) in the dock. This year, as part of Lent, which takes place from February 17 to April 4, Christian charities are launching a petition asking it to divest itself from companies active in fossil fuels. “If it complied with its own guidelines, it would send the Swiss financial center a strong signal on the way to the Paris Climate Agreement,” Bread pour le next, Action de Lent and Etre Partenaires said on Wednesday. launch of the ecumenical campaign. Collected online and “in vivo”, the signatures will be handed over to the SNB.

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According to the three organizations, the SNB held nearly $ 6 billion in shares in oil, gas and coal companies at the end of 2019. “As a result, it finances the discharge of 43 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year, or as much as emissions in Switzerland,” calculated Miges Baumann, responsible for development policy at Pain pour le NEXT.

Climate justice

Miges Baumann justified the petition in the name of climate justice. “The most disadvantaged people in Asia, Africa and South America are the first victims of disasters linked to climate change, although they are not responsible for it. “The poorest 50% of the planet generate only 10% of greenhouse gas emissions while the richest 10% produce nearly 50%”, argued the specialist.

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In a written response to Time, the SNB does not react to the approach of the charities. On the other hand, she affirms that “climate change is a subject dealt with in depth within the institution. It is above all a matter of assessing the consequences of climate change for the economy, financial stability and the management of our monetary reserves, in order to be able to fulfill our legal mandate at all times. ”

The SNB also states that it “refrains from buying shares of companies which massively violate fundamental human rights, which systematically cause serious damage to the environment or which are involved in the manufacture of weapons. condemned internationally ”. In December, it announced that it was now excluding from its investments the securities of all companies whose main activity is coal.

A shy step, but in the right direction

For charities, the exit from coal constitutes “an extremely timid step, but in the right direction. Because 99.9% of its investments in fossil fuels remain unchanged. ” Miges Baumann affirms that the SNB holds shares belonging to no less than 148 companies active in the oil and gas, including in the giants ExxonMobil, Chevron, Royal Dutch Shell, Total and Anadaco.

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“The SNB must follow the example of other central banks which are withdrawing from fossil fuels,” says Miges Baumann. Like the Banque de France, which plans to completely divest from coal, oil and gas by 2024.

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