27 October 2023

Rugby World Cup’s top sponsor caught funding Europe’s dirty fossil fuel empire

PARIS, 27 October 2023 – On the eve of the Rugby World Cup final in Paris, the tournament’s  biggest sponsor, Société Générale, is under scrutiny for its long-time support of Energetický a průmyslový holding (EPH). The French bank provides hundreds of millions of euros to an energy company that is known for buying-up Europe’s ageing coal plants and mines, and prolonging their operations at significant cost to the climate. 

Between 2016 and 2022, Société Générale provided an average of EUR 14 billion per year in support for fossil fuel companies. In contrast, it allocated an average of just EUR 4 billion per year to sustainable power [1], despite claiming: “We are determined to contribute to building a better and more sustainable world” [2].

Czech utility EPH, which is owned by the infamous fossil fuel, sports and media mogul, Daniel Kretinsky [3], annually emits more greenhouse gases than Finland and has big plans to continue expanding its fossil fuel empire [4]. In addition to dragging out Europe’s coal exit, the company also operates one of the continent’s largest fleets of fossil gas plants, and intends to more than double this capacity, further threatening Europe’s climate action ambitions. 

The climate clock is in the red – this is the final opportunity to make game-changing moves that can avert the worst impacts. Société Générale needs to quit with the sportswashing and stop financing climate change. That means kicking its support for fossil fuels into touch, and throwing its weight behind the surge in renewable power that will see Europe clean up its power system by 2035,” says Brigitte Alarcon, campaigner at Beyond Fossil Fuels.

ENDS

Contacts:

Julia Pazos, Communications Officer, Beyond Fossil Fuels [email protected], +1 310 994 9692

Brigitte Alarcon, campaigner, Beyond Fossil Fuels, [email protected], +33 641 288 759

Notes:

  1. Reclaim Finance’s Sustainable Power Policy Tracker tracks the commitments adopted by the top 60 banks worldwide.
  2. https://www.societegenerale.com/en/patronage-and-sponsorship/sports/rugby
  3. Re-set report: Fossil Hyena: How Daniel Křetínský’s EPH Destroys Climate, Profits from Energy Poverty and Threatens Democracy; Bloomberg: Elusive Billionaire Bets Against Europe’s Green Plans And Mints a Fortune
  4. EPH already operates one of the largest fleets of gas plants (almost 7 GW) and has the largest fossil gas development plans of any European energy company. Reclaim Finance report, Gaslighting: Financing fossil gas power is leading Europe’s energy transition astray 
  5. Greenpeace: What is sportswashing and why is it such a big problem?
  6. Reclaim Finance’s Banking on Climate Chaos report details fossil fuel financing by the world’s 60 biggest banks.

About

Beyond Fossil Fuels is a collective civil society campaign committed to ensuring all of Europe’s electricity is generated from fossil-free, renewable energy by 2035. It expands and builds upon the Europe Beyond Coal campaign, and its goal of a coal-free Europe in power and heat by 2030 at the latest. www.beyondfossilfuels.org

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