Environmental campaigners from around Europe held a demonstration today in Ljubljana, Slovenia aimed at ending the climate change enhancing investments of the European Investment Bank (EIB), the bank of the European Union and one of the biggest public lenders in the world.

As the EIB opened its two-day annual forum – entitled “Financing Energy – Mastering Climate Change” – in the Slovenian capital, the campaigners called attention to the EIB’s energy lending in the last five years that has seen the bank lend four times as much money to fossil fuel projects than it has loaned to solar, wind and wood biomass energy sources altogether. [1]

Barbara Kvac, Energy programme leader of local group Focus, said: “The European Union has made a firm commitment to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20 per cent by 2020, so its house bank, the EIB, urgently needs to shift the balance of its energy investments to stop financing climate change. The EIB claims to be promoting energy security. Real energy security only comes from reducing energy use and increasing renewables and some meaningful EIB targets for achieving both of these would be a positive outcome from this energy forum.”

This summer the EIB became the first publicly-owned international financial institution to publicly declare an interest in financing new nuclear power plants. The EIB is also being widely tipped to get involved in various pipeline projects across the Balkans, including the Nabucco gas pipeline and the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline. [2]

Desislava Stoyanova, Project Coordinator for Counter Balance, said: “Mastering climate change is a bold signal from the EIB but it is completely at odds with reality when you scratch the surface of the bank’s energy plans. The benefits of a truly sustainable EIB-backed project like the 50 megawatt European Solar Thermal Power Plant in Spain are undermined by the bank throwing public money at the last desperate scramble for Black Sea and Caspian Sea fossil fuels.”

Carbon trading, which is backed by the EIB, is also featuring heavily at the EIB Forum. Anders Lustgarten, EIB Programme Officer at the Bretton Woods Project, said: “Carbon trading is scientifically unverifiable, enriches the very worst polluters, diverts resources away from renewables and perpetuates the ‘unlimited consumption’ economic model that represents the single biggest threat to the future of life on earth. City bankers’ portfolios should be vitalised by more renewables rather than being blackened further by carbon.”

Today’s demonstration also involved participants carrying a large set of scales, with one side representing renewable energies, and the others fossil fuels and nuclear energy. People in Ljubljana were invited to send postcards to the EIB regarding its energy lending by placing the cards on the side of the scales that represented their preferred energy option.

Notes for editors

[1] Bankwatch’s analysis of EIB energy investments for 2002-2006 is available from the Bankwatch website; more details on the EIB Forum 2007 are available on its website.

[2] The EIB is also a signatory to a recent memorandum of understanding with the European Commission that envisages cooperation on “the creation of a South-East European corridor for gas transportation to the EU; the development of new routes or extension of existing routes to facilitate oil export from the Black Sea to European markets and; the development of the trans-Caspian corridor for oil and gas…”. See more information about this recent memorandum of understanding.