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In this year’s Pinocchio Awards, the company “GDF SUEZ” has been nominated as one of three companies in the category ”Greener than green”, a category that is awarded to the company that has led the most abusive and misleading communication campaign in regard to its actual activities. GDF SUEZ is nominated for its "green bonds" being neither very green nor very binding.
The French multinational company GDF SUEZ issued in May this year “the largest green bond to date” worth €2.5 billion. The company promotes itself as “a global energy player and an expert operator in the three key sectors of electricity, natural gas and energy services” and the bond is claimed by the company to be issued as a support to the company’s ”ambitious development strategy in renewable energies and energy efficiency”. GDF SUEZ declares that in order for projects to receive financing they must meet numerous social and environmental criteria, which have been developed together with and approved by the ESG (environmental, social and governmental) rating agency Viego.
Lucie Pinson, from Friends of the Earth France, explains that GDF SUEZ’s green bond has no clear guideline about what meets the criteria of being green - there is no transparency about how projects are selected and financed. She says that there are no independent examination for which projects are selected and how they are run. She says: “GDF has declared that this bond could be used to finance projects as the huge Jirau dam in Latin America. This project is very far from what we can call a sustainable investment.” GDF SUEZ has been mainly financing the building of the Jirau dam in Brazil, a project that has been criticized for flooding the banks of the river, endangering fish species, polluting, forcing displacement of local communities and offering very poor working conditions. Lucie claims that: “the Jirau dam is far from a sustainable investment and we are very concerned that this kind of green bond emission could be used to finance this kind of projects.”
GDF SUEZ response to the nomination has been that the bonds have been validated by the rating agency Viego and that the bond projects meet the sustainable development standard. Lucie Pinson comment to this is that “they hide their responsibility in making sure that the green bond finances only sustainable projects on Vigeo’s approval. But Vigeo is paid by GDF and evaluates only GDF based on the documents given publicly by GDF. There is no checking on the ground of what is happening.”
Lucie concluded “we denounce GDF as greenwashing their responsibility in developing very green and responsible projects, as responding to needs of the population, but when we look deeply into GDFs activities, not what is on paper, but what the company really does, we see that GDF is developing fossil fuel projects in different countries in the world”.
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