European Investment Bank Promises Fossil Funding Phaseout in 2020
In a move that Oil Change International is hailing as a “massive step forward in climate leadership”, the European Investment Bank (EIB) announced late last month that it will cut off the billions of euros per year that it invests in fossil fuel projects by the end of next year.
“With this move, the world’s largest multilateral lender is now poised to leave oil, gas, and coal in the past,” said Oil Change senior campaigner Alex Doukas. “The EU member states who control the bank must now stand behind the EIB’s ambitious climate vision, and other financial institutions should quickly follow suit to stop funding fossils.”
Like this story? Subscribe to The Energy Mix and never miss an edition of our free e-digest.
The bank’s draft plans “propose cutting support for energy infrastructure projects which rely on oil, gas, or coal by barring companies from applying for loans beyond the end of 2020,” The Guardian reports. “The EIB said its focus on long-term investments means that it must align with the Paris Agreement, which aims to cap global heating at 1.5°C above 1990 levels by cutting greenhouse gas emissions.”
The draft document states that “this transition will be profound,” adding that “solidarity is required to ensure that potentially vulnerable groups or regions are supported.” It says the EIB will introduce an energy transitions fund to help EU member states make the shift to a post-carbon economy.
The news report links the EIB decision to mounting pressure from civil society groups and investors, calling on financial institutions to limit their exposure to risky fossil fuel projects. “Last month 80 civil society organizations and academics published an open letter to the EIB, calling on the bank to end its fossil fuel financing, which topped €2.4 billion (£2.1 billion) in 2018,” The Guardian writes. “The letter, which was coordinated by the campaign group Counter-Balance, accused the bank of ‘lagging behind the science’ underpinning the climate crisis.”
Friends of the Earth Europe campaigner Colin Roche called the announcement “a crack of light in the darkness”, adding that “while the EU and national governments are floundering as the planet burns, the EU’s public bank has made the brave, correct, and just proposal to stop funding fossil fuel projects. We are now urging the European Investment Bank’s board to endorse this step forward, and ensure there are no loopholes for fossil fuel funding.”