Illuminating Climate

Illuminating Climate

The catalyst: Bpifrance’s role in supporting the climate transition

France plays a pioneering and crucial role in considering climate risks and imperatives in public export financing policies, and has a proactive policy of strengthening support for French companies’ projects that contribute to climate objectives, says Maëlia Dufour at Bpifrance Assurance Export. She explains how the French ECA acts as a catalyst for this strategy by offering suitable products to support the climate transition
Maëlia Dufour
Maëlia Dufour
Director International Relations, Business Development, Rating and Environment, Bpifrance

Bpifrance Assurance Export carries out a systematic environmental and social assessment of all major credit insurance projects, as well as investment, managed in the name, on behalf and under the control, of the French state. Related environmental procedures and requirements are largely common to all OECD countries’ ECAs, as described in the OECD Common Approaches (‘Recommendation of the Council on Common Approaches for Officially Supported Export Credit and the Environmental and Social Due Diligence’ (2016)). Environmental and social due diligence is also carried out according to the IFC Performance standards (World Bank Group).

As Bpifrance Assurance Export is publicly managed by the French government, its activities are led by French regulation and law on export credits. Since the climate has become a priority for the French government, Bpifrance Assurance Export has taken over a specific mandate from the government to pursue climate goals.

A formal climate strategy was designed with the French government via a report submitted to the Parliament in October 2020: ‘The Climate Plan for export financing’. This policy took effect on 1 January, 2021 and is broken down into three areas of work:

1) Restrictions on financing fossil fuels

The Finance law of 2020 had already banned support for coal, shale oil & gas and oil exploitation using routine flaring. A three-stage scenario for the termination of state guarantees for oil and gas projects was adopted:

  • as of 2021, Bpifrance Assurance Export will end support for heavy fuel oil, oil shale and oil sand projects
  • as of 2025, it will cease support for the exploitation of new oil fields
  • by 2035, at the latest, support for the exploitation of new gas fields will cease

2) Tighter financing policy for the power generation sector

Support to thermal power plants is now limited to projects improving the carbon footprint of the electricity mix of the recipient country. It should encourage recipient countries to move towards energy transition.

3) Financial incentive mechanisms for sustainable projects: The Climate Bonus

The Climate Bonus is a complement to the credit insurance product provided by Bpifrance Assurance Export to incentivise sustainable transactions. It should make it possible to:
(i) better support companies during the development of projects
(ii) improve financial conditions and
(iii) increase financing volumes.

The eligibility to the Climate Bonus is based on the EU Taxonomy for sustainable activities. For now, only climate sustainable projects can be granted with the Climate Bonus because the EU Taxonomy has only treated the first two objectives about climate (mitigation and adaptation). In the future, when the EU Taxonomy deals with all the environmental objectives, the Climate Bonus could become an environmental bonus. A project will be eligible for the Climate Bonus if it is aligned with the EU Taxonomy, that means if it substantially contributes to one of the climate objectives while not significantly harming other environmental objectives.

The Climate Bonus will give access to favourable financial conditions: (i) maximisation of the insured financed portion and (ii) removal of working fees for project finance transactions. The Climate Bonus has been developed with the help of French entrepreneurs and banks and is aimed at answering their needs.

To date, Bpifrance Assurance Export has received eight applications for the Climate Bonus, the majority of which relate to projects in the electricity transmission and distribution and renewable energy sectors. Two of these applications have received a favourable decision from the Inter-ministerial Export insurance Commission on their contribution to the climate change mitigation objective. The exporters concerned have therefore benefited from the financial incentives of the bonus. The other applications are under assessment by our environmental experts.

Lastly, as part of the Bpifrance Assurance Export climate strategy, an assessment of the carbon footprint of the portfolio has been performed every year since 2019. This calculation allows us to point out the decarbonisation trajectory Bpifrance aims at reaching and to check the more emissive projects and thus to improve the transition towards a green economy.

The French government, along with Bpifrance Assurance Export are fully engaged in the fight against climate change.

More BUlletin Publications

What's on the horizon for 2023?


What's on the horizon for 2023?

The pick of key issues to look out for in 2023 – from macro trends, potentially choppy seas for smaller ECAs,  possibilities for using Islamic finance in the renewable energy transition, China’s reopening, a bumpy CPRI outlook, and reinsurance complexities. 

Authors look at...

Digitalisation as a business leadership imperative


Digitalisation as a business leadership imperative

Technology-driven trade and client interaction are nothing new. But increasing investment in digitalisation of fundamental business processes and decision making is driving a new way of looking at trade finance and risk underwriting. Authors highlight successes and challen...

Mobilising Africa's Potential


Mobilising Africa's Potential

Despite the challenges there are many positive opportunities emerging for Africa today

Curated by the BU Sub-Saharan Africa Working Group, authors for this special edition of the BUlletin explore areas of growth and the role of different sources of international finance tapping this

Ripples and After-effects


Ripples and After-effects

exploring the multiple secondary impacts of both the pandemic and the war in Ukraine

from sovereign risk in Africa, to energy security, political violence and the private CPRI market

Shocks and Short Circuits: The Rewiring of Global Trade


Shocks and short-circuits: The re-wiring of global trade

The bright shoots of economic growth are under threat once again
Assailed by commodity supply shocks and political instability exacerbated by the war in Ukraine
Contributors this month look at the complex impacts on trade and investment across developed and...

Diverging Risk


Some predict that 2022 may finally bring us beyond the thrall of the COVID-19 pandemic

But the events of past two years have brought significant divergence of risk across economic and geographic boundaries

Authors this month look at how this is playing out in a range of cases

New Foundations


If the global economy is truly on the road to recovery how can we build the surest path to sustainable growth in our new net-zero world?

New foundations in tech, data, and cooperative frameworks may help guide us into the next phase

In search of claims


Where is the avalanche of claims and insolvencies expected to emerge from COVID-19?
The picture so far is uneven across geographies, sectors and business lines
And for the future? Well, it depends...

Cross-roads for Africa's recovery


The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Africa has been considerable and the path of recovery depends on maintaining the support of local, regional and international stakeholders. But which approaches can best build upon the opportunities presented by growing intra-regional trade, and investment in sustainable infrastructure?

Navigating the Brave New World of Trade


With the wounds of the pandemic still under triage, a rebound in trade could the best hope for governments and businesses alike.
But trade is under immense pressure from myriad directions.
How can we maintain supply of finance, in the face of growing demand and irregular patterns of risk?

January 2020 BUlletin


Exploring the macro forces impacting trade, 2019 H1 Industry Data Snapshot + Analysis of the Economic Outlook for 2020

September 2019 BUlletin


This edition of the BUlletin juxtaposes themes of change and disorder with the celebration of a number of institutional anniversaries, symbolic of endurance.

• The new dynamics of 'trade in flux' • 100 years of UKEF • ICIEC on Partnerships for Development • Sector Spotlight: Shipping (GIEK) and Pharma (SE...

July 2019 BUlletin


Export Credit and Investment Insurance, Today and Tomorrow

We can see the seeds of the future in digitalisation, automation, applications of block-chain, or machine learning. But what will it mean in practice?

May 2019 BUlletin


Is international financing on target?

This edition of the BUlletin addresses the evolving role of various international financial institutions in generating sufficient risk capital for development projects and in particular investment in critical infrastructure and renewable energy.

Also featuring review of Bern...

2019 Spring Periodical


Spring Periodical with 2018 Year end statistics and commentary, plus results of the 2019 'State of the Industry Survey', conducted jointly with ICISA.

Berne Union Members covered a record USD 2.48 trillion of new business in 2018. At the same time, claims remained elevated at over USD 6 billion, for the forth consecutive year....

August 2018 BUlletin


Innovations in trade technology, e-commerce and insuretech | Rethinking local currency | LMA's new buyer credit facility 

Contributors this month explore diverse themes of innovation, from the foundations of trade in the form of smart ledgers through to new approaches to supporting e-commerce exports and the potential...

July 2018 BUlletin


IWG | 2H 2018 Risk Outlook | Trade Wars | Regulation and more...

Contributors to the July BUlletin explore the development of a new era in export credit, through the lens of proceedings at the IWG; trade wars; sustainability and export finance regulation

April 2018 BUlletin


Themes for this month focus on:

Linking Trade and Economic Growth / Collaborative approaches to Sustainable Development /Wind Financing / Digital Innovation / Venezuela / 

March 2018 Bulletin


By all accounts 2017 was an excellent year for Berne Union members

who once again made a tremendous positive impact on global cross-border trade and investment - providing a record USD 2.35 trillion in cover for cross-border trade and investment and now supporting 14% of total worldwide exports.

September 2017 BUlletin


"small business to big infrastructure – local currency to global economic policy"

Themes for September span the full scale of international finance in a bumper edition, with a selection of 12 articles from Berne Union members and industry experts, painting a telling picture of the relative pressures and priorities in ...

August 2017 BUlletin


"New Horizons: Changing Markets, Evolving Approaches"

This month’s contributors examine three economies seemingly at turning points – Argentina, Iran and the Côte d’Ivoire – considering in each case the forces actively influencing the trade environment and the approach of the financial ...

July 2017 BUlletin


"10 years of SERV, SMEs and Africa"

Commentators this month focus on support for small businesses, local contractors and risk in Africa - including energy sector and analysis of the Mozambique debt crisis. Detailed BU Data Snapshot on Africa and a member survey on approaches to SMEs set the scene...

May 2017 BUlletin


"Claims, Pricing and Regulation"

The first edition of the BUlletin kicks off with a 'State of the Industry' review from Berne Union Secretary General, Vinco David, where he considers three factors which could disrupt the status quo for the export credit and investment insurance industry...