- Written by Nick Breeze Twitter @NickGBreeze Nick Breeze Twitter @NickGBreeze
- Published: 17 November 2019 17 November 2019
As climate change becomes more real in every part of our planet, whether it be forest fires in Australia, California, Europe and elsewhere, floods across the North of England or India and Bangladesh, the act to abandon fossil fuels is critical to effectively responding to the climate change crisis.
World’s Largest Public Bank goes from fossil fuel backer to backer-a-way
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The European Investment Bank (EIB), the world’s largest international public bank and the €555bn lending arm of the EU, adopted a new lending policy that will cut finance to most fossil fuel projects as it tries to become the world’s first ‘climate bank’. Some countries including the German and Italian governments pushed for loopholes that could allow for dangerous fossil gas projects to be supported by the bank - campaigners will continue to fight against these.
Campaigners efforts are paying off
“When the world’s biggest public lender decides to largely ditch fossil fuels, financial markets across the globe will take notice: this is the beginning of the end of climate-wrecking fossil fuel finance. The gas lobby has unfortunately managed to get Germany and the European Commission to insert some loopholes into the policy, which leave the door open for funding of dangerous fossil gas projects. They had better take note of the growing list of pipelines, terminals and fracking wells that are scrapped thanks to local opposition and the unprecedented masses of people mobilising for climate justice,” said Kate Cahoon, Germany Campaigner.
This decision is a result for the tens of thousands of people around the world who have put pressure on the EIB to recognise it must go fossil-free, as well as for the local groups across Europe who have been regularly protesting outside finance ministries and EIB offices. This move is not isolated; it comes amid growing pressure on financial institutions to cut their exposure to high-carbon projects and a collective move by Multilateral Development Banks to align their funding with the Paris agreement.
€6.m per day was given to the fossil fuel industry by EIB
The EIB handed out €6.2 million every day to fossil fuel companies between 2013 and 2018 and provided security for millions more in private funding - so cutting this finance is another nail in the coffin for the fossil fuel industry. But the loopholes for fossil gas remain - any project added to the EU’s ‘Projects of Common Interest’ (PCI) list before 2022 will still be eligible for EIB funding, and at present, there are more than 50 fossil gas projects included. The PCI list is yet to be finalised so there is still time to ensure the EIB doesn’t lock Europe into decades of dependency on dangerous fossil fuels.
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The time is now - urgency clear
“This is a clear signal to financial institutions in Europe and around the world that they must take rapid, transformative action to change their financial models, keep fossil fuels in the ground, and support a just transition to sustainable forms of energy for all,” said Clémence Dubois, France Campaigner, 350.org.
The European Commission is guilty of watering down ambition
The European Commission, bending to the will of the gas lobby, pressured EU member states to weaken a stronger version of the policy that would have seen a more comprehensive ban on fossil fuel finance.
Germany instrumental in weakening ambition
This flies in the face of the failure so far of the EU states to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enter a firm roadmap to net zero before 2050. Germany was also instrumental in watering down the first proposed policy, but the actions of Finance Minister Olaf Scholz in pushing for fossil fuel loopholes has precipitated a significant new movement against fossil gas projects in the country.
Global failure under the spotlight next month
As COP25 approaches countries from around the world will be scrutinised against nationally determined contributions (NDC’s) to reducing carbon pollution made in Paris at COP21. The world is currently on a very dangerous trajectory that threatens many lives around the world today and ultimately everybody’s lives as climate breakdown accelerates.