12 October, 2020

Laurie van der Burg,
laurie [at]
Romain Ioualalen, romain [at]

Statement: France fails to show climate leadership with proposed export finance policy

October 12, 2020 – Today, the French government outlined new measures aimed at greening the country’s export credit support policy. Under the proposed new policy, France will continue supporting fossil fuel projects worldwide until at least 2035. Oil Change International (OCI) urges the French government to reconsider this end date as it is grossly misaligned with the Paris Agreement. If France takes climate science seriously, it should announce an end to all support to fossil fuel projects by 2021, according to OCI.

The measures announced by the French government allow public finance to support the expansion of the fossil fuel industry despite clear evidence that carbon emissions from oil, gas and coal in already operating fields and mines globally would push the world beyond 2°C, let alone 1.5°C of warming. Crucially, France will continue promoting further fossil fuel lock-in by supporting oil projects until 2025 and gas projects until 2035.

Laurie van der Burg, Senior Campaigner at Oil Change International, said: “France just wasted a massive opportunity to lead the way in phasing out export subsidies to fossil fuels. In exactly one month from now France is hosting Finance in Common, the first global public finance Summit aimed at getting public banks controlling $2 trillion in public money a year to align with the Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals. Instead of providing the right example, France today is creating a harmful precedent by proposing to allow the continuation of fossil fuel export finance for another 15 years. This completely ignores the urgency of the climate crisis. It is to be hoped that the long expected UK commitment to end fossil fuel finance sets a better standard, and that France soon strengthens its policy to end public finance for fossil fuels by the end of 2021.”

The French decision is particularly puzzling as it directly contradicts Emmanuel Macron’s speech to the 2019 UN General Assembly in which he called such export subsidies for fossil fuels “incoherent” and “irresponsible”. It also comes merely a week after French oil and gas giant Total announced a new strategy that would see the company invest massively in fossil gas over the next decade, as reflected in the company’s recent projects in Mozambique and the Russian Arctic.

Romain Ioualalen, Senior Campaigner at Oil Change International, said: “Despite the green veneer of today’s announcement, the French government continues to align its export subsidies policy with the oil and gas industry’s interests. It is striking to see how this new policy mirrors Total’s and its subcontractors’ strategy to bet massively on fossil gas, at the expense of people and communities most impacted by the climate crisis.” 


Oil Change International is a research, communication, and advocacy organization focused on exposing the true costs of fossil fuels and facilitating the coming transition towards clean energy.