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Lead France’s energy transition, Hollande tells Caisse des Dépôts

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Caisse des Dépôts, France’s state-owned public interest financial institution, should become the orchestrator of the country’s transition to a greener economy and consider changing its name in connection with this “mission”, president François Hollande has said.

The remarks were made as part of a wide-ranging speech during a ceremony marking the bicentenary of Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations (CDC).

Hollande said the CDC should continue its “traditional missions” of financing infrastructure and supporting business but on a broader scale.

This is why Agence Francaise de Developpement (AFD), the country’s international development agency, will be integrated into the CDC, he said.

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He assigned a new mission to the CDC, however, saying he wanted the institution to implement France’s “transition écologique et energetique” – the country’s shift to a more environmentally sustainable societal and economic system.

He said this was particularly important in light of the climate change agreement reached in Paris in December.

The president flagged a possible name change to capture this new priority, suggesting that in future it should perhaps be called Caisse des Dépôts et du Developpement Durable [sustainable development].

To fulfil this new ambition, CDC should free up €3bn of additional investment capacity by 2017, Hollande said.

The idea is for this to happen by way of a more active management of the CDC’s holdings, he added, which will release capital that can be funnelled toward new investments supporting sustainable development and green growth.

The state will contribute to this by way of reducing charges on Caisse des Depot’s results over the coming years.

Hollande set out two major priorities for the deployment of the new resources: housing and green growth.  

Half should go toward social housing in the form of loans of at least 20 years at 0% interest and the rest to finance the renovation, particularly thermal, of public buildings.

These funds will allow an additional €8bn to be raised, while the state and the CDC will jointly set up a property company with €750m in capital, he added.

Another mission, Hollande said, was for the CDC to manage the new French social security system, specifically the occupational social security scheme. 

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