AXA unveils €1.5bn biodiversity commitment

AXA has covered more than 60

AXA will invest €1.5bn to support sustainable forest management. This includes €500m in reforestation projects in emerging countries, in a move that will help capture 25 megatonnes of CO2 emissions annually.

The company will also add extra scrutiny to investment and insurance across key markets that are drivers of deforestation. These include soy, palm oil, timber, and cattle production.

AXA is also joining the World Heritage Sites initiative, overseen by the United Nations Principles for Sustainable Insurance and WWF, to implement specific exclusions on its insurance activities to protect the main biodiversity reserves identified by UNESCO.

“Forests represent 80% of the Earth’s biodiversity and play an essential role in the fight against climate change,” AXA’s chief executive Thomas Buberl said.

“AXA has been a pioneer in the financial industry by adopting, in 2013, restrictions on unsustainable palm oil operations to protect stressed ecosystems. In the face of the climate emergency, and prior to the COP26, we are proud to extend our commitments and announce new measures to fight deforestation, protect forest ecosystems, and preserve biodiversity.”

Currently, AXA has covered more than 60,000 hectares of forests through certification schemes such as the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification or the Forest Stewardship Council.

Igniting change

AXA is one of the major banks backing the Task Force for Nature-Related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) initiative intended to help corporates measure, disclose and minimise their nature-related financial risks through a dedicated taskforce.

Some of the world’s largest banks have been linked to industries that are causing mass deforestation and biodiversity loss, with some in the finance sector providing loans and underwriting worth more than $2.6trn to climate-wrecking initiatives.

The Bankrolling Extinction report has claimed that 50 global banks, including Bank of America, Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, Mizuho Financial, Wells Fargo, BNP Paribas, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial, HSBC, SMBC Group and Barclay, together provided loans and underwriting worth more than $2.6 trn to the food, forestry, mining, fossil fuels, infrastructure, tourism and transport and logistics sectors in 2019. According to the report, these industries are primary drivers of biodiversity loss and overfishing.

On average, each of the 50 banks was linked $52bn in finance that is causing biodiversity loss risk.

Earlier this year, AXA was named among the members of a new coalition of investors convened to promote a just low-carbon transition across Europe. Collectively, members represent €3.6trn of assets under management.

The new coalition is being convened by Finance for Tomorrow, an initiative originally launched in 2016 to help the French finance sector align with the ambitions of the Paris Agreement. It is called ‘Investors for a Just Transition’.

Matt Mace

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