Lucie Pinson wants to decarbonize finance

XXL glasses frame, mischievous smile and youthful look. At first glance, Lucie Pinson willingly admits “ not having the same aura” than a thick-skinned CEO. His stubbornness and in-depth knowledge of the financial sector nevertheless sparks. Founder of the NGO Reclaim Finance, she has made it her mission to put an end to fossil fuels (coal, gas, oil) and deforestation by putting pressure on those who finance them (banks, investors, insurers, etc.) . His commitment, rewarded with the Goldman Prize in 2020, a kind of Nobel Prize for the environment, dates back to childhood.

Little, I didn’t have my tongue in my pocketconfides this young woman of 37 years. I rebelled as soon as a person threw trash on the ground “. She grew up near Nantes, in a family from the left » sensitive to beauty and respect for nature. “ For the holidays, we would trudge in campsites on the farm “, says this daughter of a postman and a trainer of educators of young children, who for a time imagined herself as a forest ranger, oceanographer or ambassador.

A course in law and political science in South Africa

After her baccalaureate, she studied the humanities near Angers at the Albert-le-Grand Institute, founded by an abbot. ” It was a school attended by the old French aristocracyshe recalls. I felt like a UFO there but I learned a lot there “. She is continuing her studies in law and political science in South Africa for two years. “ Being French, female and white, twelve years after the end of Apartheid, it took me all this time to adapt”.

She completed her studies in Paris and participated in the organization of the G8 and G20 counter-summits within an anti-globalization association. Very quickly, she senses that it is on the lever of finance that we must press to hope for change. Hired in 2013 by Friends of the Earth, she leads a campaign to prevent the development of infrastructures against which local populations are mobilized (nuclear, palm oil, etc.) before focusing her efforts against coal.

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Seven years later, in January 2020, France becomes the first country to no longer support projects related to this high CO2-emitting energy. Two months later, Lucie Pinson created her own association, Reclaim Finance, financed by donations and foundations. It is affiliated with the French branch of Friends of the Earth and its English name depicts its international ambitions. ” The definitive exit from fossil fuels is the first of the battles to be waged in the face of climate catastrophe”she warns, stressing that the International Energy Agency (IEA) calls on States to cease ” immediately » the exploration of new gas or oil sites.

Change model

At the crossroads of the NGO and the think tank, Reclaim Finance conducts research on the practices of financial actors, offers them solutions to change their model and publicly exposes those who do not play the game, according to the principle of “name and shame”. (“Name and Shame”).

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We have an invisible job of negotiations with financial playersshe describes. We present them with feasible ideas to implement and if they don’t meet a certain timeline, we pressure them by threatening to release our data. “. A strategy of influence that suits him well.

We meet very different people and we have to play with a lot of parametersappreciates this amateur of chess and transverse flute. You have to anticipate the scenarios to make sure you end up victorious in the end “.

“A French taboo called Total”

At the beginning of the year, his NGO has nearly twenty employees. A young team, made up of business school graduates, political science graduates and advanced profiles to master the mysteries of finance. “ If we really want to change the world, our requests must be well thought out “. After her victories over coal, this hard worker knows that the game promises to be difficult for oil and gas.

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We enter the hard because we attack a French taboo called Total, she says. Its influence on the political and economic decisions of the government remains significant “.

Later, she would see herself setting up a branch in New York. According to a report published last year by his NGO and five international partners, American banks are the first to finance fossil fuels in the world…


His inspiration: The sharp pen of François Bégaudeau

Lucie Pinson says she draws her inspiration from social movements and Lip-type collective struggles rather than from individuals. But it was marked by the career of Heffa Schücking, founder of the German NGO Urgewald, who played a key role in the gradual disinvestment in coal in her country. ” She has absolutely incredible strength of character and energy to fight,” salute Lucie Pinson who also cites the activist Cédric Herrou and Carola Rackete, ship captain, for their unfailing involvement with exiled people. On the literature side, she appreciates the sharp pen of François Bégaudeau, author of the book Between the walls.


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