Lucie Pinson started her career as an environmental activist in South Africa, where almost 90% of the energy comes from coal-fired power stations. Originally from France, she worked on the ground with the NGO Friends of the Earth, fighting against new coal projects being built in South Africa. But those coal projects were happening because of financing from major banks around the world, including from French financial institutions. Between 2005 and 2014, French banks including BNP Paribas and Credit Agricole supported the coal industry with more than 30 billion euros, making France the fourth biggest funder of coal at that time.
So Pinson focused her attention on the banks in France, pressuring them to divest from coal projects. That work has made her a winner of the 2020 Goldman Environmental Prize, an annual award that recognizes grassroots environmental activists from each of the world’s six geographic regions: Africa, Asia, Europe, Islands and Island Nations, North America, and South and Central America.