France withdraws Say on Climate amendment from green industry bill

The amendment was removed from France's green industry bill at the last minute ahead of a debate and vote in the joint committee last night.

National Assembly in Paris.

France’s Say on Climate amendment was withdrawn from the green industry bill on Monday ahead of a debate and vote on the legislation by the joint committee (CMP), which is made up of seven MPs and seven senators.

The decision was made by rapporteurs Guillaume Kasbarian from the Renaissance party and Laurent Somon from the Republican party. It meant the amendment was not debated on Monday as planned and will not make it to the final vote on the wider bill.

Responsible Investor has approached Kasbarian for comment on why the decision was made.

The green industry bill – first proposed in May – is expected to be finalised by the end of this week, and will be subject to a final vote next week on Tuesday in the national assembly, and on Wednesday in the senate.

The Say on Climate amendment was first tabled as part of the bill by Renaissance MP and Caisse des Dépôts chair Alexandre Holroyd in July.

It proposed that all French listed companies would be required to submit their climate strategies for shareholder approval every three years via an advisory vote, with an annual vote each year on the implementation of the strategy.

Holroyd told RI: “This is hugely disappointing after receiving broad cross-party support in the national assembly. In removing the Say on Climate demands of the bill, they have removed the most ambitious part of the law.”

He added that this could delay necessary discussions on transition plans in certain companies, but said he is hopeful that Say on Climate discussions will continue to take place as part of other bills.

The French SIF, which helped put the bill together and has long been pushing for improvements to shareholder dialogue, was also unhappy with the result.

“We are highly disappointed by the joint committee’s decision,” executive director Grégoire Cousté told RI. “It is incomprehensible in the context of urgency.”

“It shows high sensitivity to corporate lobbying and a lack of vision of the stakes. It would have had a political benefit for the government and parliament, and would have created a useful tool for climate transition.”

France is the first country to propose a national requirement for listed companies to disclose their climate plans for shareholders to vote on.

In late July, the French national assembly adopted the amendment as part of the wider green industry bill, with a majority of French MPs voting in favour.

The bill had initially been rejected by the commission, but was put to a second vote at parliament’s public debate, where an additional five political parties endorsed it.

It was nonetheless still met with some resistance, with minister delegate for industry Roland Lescure and rapporteur Damien Adam opposing the amendment, and arguing that it was not in France’s interest to pass such a law.

Lescure also said that the incoming EU Corporate Reporting Sustainability Directive (CSRD) will be “much more effective”.

BNP Paribas Asset Management echoed this, adding that a triannual Say on Climate vote would be more appropriate.

In response, Holroyd had contended that the bill was neither a duplication of the CSRD, not of the French duty of vigilance law, but an opportunity for French investors and funds to have a dialogue on climate plans with companies at AGMs.