Food group Danone names investors for innovative carbon offset fund

Crédit Agricole and Caisse des Dépôts back new €50m ‘Livelihoods’

French food giant Danone has named bank group Crédit Agricole, energy management specialist Schneider Electric and Caisse des Dépôts’ CDC Climat as the first investors to back its new €50m ‘Livelihoods’ carbon-offset fund.

“With assets totalling €30-50m, Livelihoods will invest in three main programs: restoration and preservation of natural ecosystems, agroforestry and soil restoration, and rural energy projects that prevent deforestation,” Danone said.

The fund aims to capture 900,000 tons of carbon over 20 years.

Danone has been experimenting with carbon offsets since 2008 and – following similar projects in Africa and Asia – had called on other investors to support Livelihoods. The fund is a shared platform that will support additional projects, Danone said.

“Livelihoods is based on the conviction that climate change and poverty are closely linked,” said Bernard Giraud, who will head the fund. “It is open to all businesses that share this philosophy and want to develop carbon-offset projects that change lives.”

Fund partners will receive certified carbon credits in proportion to their investment, and can use the credits to offset their carbon emissions.Pierre Ducret, CDC Climat’s chairman and chief executive, said the fund was “very appealing and original” while Crédit Agricole CEO Jean-Paul Chifflet said it fitted in with its aim of “becoming a key player in the environmental economy worldwide”.

To further the project, several new initiatives have been set up. Livelihoods Venture identifies programs while Livelihoods Network is a forum for NGOs and experts. There is also a Livelihoods Advisory Board. The membership includes: Anada Tiega, Secretary General of Ramsar International Convention on Wetlands and Julia Marton Lefevre, Director General of the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Other names are Luc Guyau, Chairman of the independent Committee of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Tony Simons, Director General of ICRAF, the Word Agroforestry Center and Michel Griffon of the French Fund for Global Environment.

In December, Responsible Investor reported that Danone was experimenting with the issuance of corporate bonds that would base part of their return on ESG (environment, social and governance) targets – although the project was put on hold.
Livelihoods announcement