Savings: what you need to know about green finance – Your rights

From COP to IPCC reports, good news about the future of the planet is rare. But more and more savers are choosing to act on their own level by “greening” their investments. Urban planning, agri-food, transport, energy: companies working on an environmental transition or at least committing to the neutrality of their carbon footprints in many sectors need funds. The good news is that these “green” investments, stocks or bonds, are not only good for the environment, but also profitable.

Sustainable investments indeed offer comparable risks and returns to traditional investments. Many investors even believe that related companies are less exposed to reputational risk or increased legislative or regulatory restrictions than others. “Companies that are seen as solution providers offer very promising technologies in the long term,” says Nicolas Redon, a green finance expert at Novethic, an information and research organization dependent on the Caisse des Dépôts, which awards the main label dedicated to funds. . “And the needs of the ecological transition are clearly not funded. »

What are green funds?

These funds mainly consist of so-called “green” shares. They are provided by companies whose activities have a positive impact on the environment. Each management company can create a fund according to a specific set of criteria and values. This approach may exclude, for example, activities (hydrocarbons, nuclear, armaments, etc.). Another approach is “best-in-class,” or positive selection, which favors companies that make the most efforts to decarbonize their operations.

Green bonds?

Some still rare funds include green bonds or “green bonds.” They are issued by companies, local authorities or international organizations that finance debt projects or activities that generate direct environmental benefits (energy efficiency, renewable energy, climate change adaptation, etc.). These commitments must be certified by an independent body.

What means of saving?

With Livret A, life insurance, the preferred savings vehicle of the French, makes it possible to prioritize green values. “Distributors, there are new restrictions from 2020,” reminds Nicolas Redon. The Pact law requires them to offer at least one unit of account (UC) labeled according to each state label of sustainable finance in their media: SRI (Editor’s Note Socially Responsible Investment), green or solidarity”. But you can go further by opting for 100% SRI contracts offered by some of the major banking players. SRI incorporates environmental as well as social and governance criteria and is often summarized by the acronym ESG.

A few fintechs (3) have even designed life insurance contracts with only green securities. It is also possible to subscribe to these funds in a securities account, PEA, pension savings plan (PER) or employee savings plan. Most fund managers, banks, insurance companies or provider groups offer these labeled savings solutions.

But we must not forget the rule that still prevails in this area, especially for the purchase of shares: the risk of capital loss is not excluded, especially if the investments are not very diversified.

1. IPCC: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

2. COP: Conference of the Parties.

3. A startup developing innovative digital technology to optimize financial services.

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Three labels for orientation


Three French labels allow investors to orient themselves:

1. SRI (Socially responsible investment). Created by the state after COP21 in 2016, it is dedicated to UCITS (Undertakings for Collective Investment in Transferable Securities invested in shares or bonds), which can include individuals, especially in the context of life insurance. Additional financial criteria considered, known as ESG, relate to the environment, social issues and corporate governance. A list of 1083 labeled funds for 181 management companies is available on their website:

2. Greenfin. Focusing more on ecology, this label was created in 2015 (under a different name at the time) during COP21. This distinguishes funds that include the majority of investments in activities falling within the sphere of energy and ecological transition and combating climate change (“eco-activities”). It also excludes activities “in the fossil fuel value chain and the entire nuclear industry.” 95 funds are currently tagged. The list can be found on the website of the ministry.

3. Finansol. It is the name of the association, born in 1995, which promotes solidarity in the field of savings and finance, and also its label, established in 1997. It distinguishes around 150 solidarity savings products that allow investment in “projects of high social and/or environmental benefit”.

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