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Credit Suisse rejects climate organizations' criticism over coal sector lending

Credit Suisse Group AG has rejected recent criticism from environmental organizations over its coal sector lending, saying it is supporting its clients in the transition to low-carbon business models, news agency dpa-AFX reported Jan. 13.

At CHF289 billion as of 2018-end, the share of fossil fuel-related loans in the group's portfolio is less than 3%, the report, which was carried by wallstreet-online.de, cited a Credit Suisse spokeswoman as saying.

The bank was criticized by climate activists after the release of a report showing Credit Suisse had spent $57.42 billion on the financing of fossil fuel projects between 2016 and 2018. The Banking on Climate Change report released in late 2019 ranked Credit Suisse in the middle of a list of 30 banks supporting such projects.

Credit Suisse wants to transform its portfolio in line with the Paris Agreement on climate change and has already announced it will not finance the building of new coal power plants in line with its new climate strategy, it said in its response, according to the report.

Climate activists have also criticized Credit Suisse brand ambassador, tennis star Roger Federer, for comments he made in an interview with Swiss magazine Blick. Federer said he could not advocate for a reduction of air traffic given that he himself is a frequent flyer.

In November 2018, climate activists blocked the entrance of a Credit Suisse branch using a tennis net. The bank pressed charges against the 12 activists for trespassing but a Lausanne court ruled Jan. 13 that they were not guilty of refusing to pay fines levied on them, due to the seriousness of the issue about which they were protesting.