In their meeting today, the Directors of the European Investment Bank (EIB) approved a Climate Roadmap lacking ambition, ruining the hopes of many that the bank would really transform itself into the ‘EU Climate Bank’.
In November 2019, alongside an unprecedented decision to ban support to all fossil fuels including gas, the EIB took the ambitious commitment to become the ‘EU Climate Bank’ by raising its volume of climate financing and aligning all of its operations with the objectives of the Paris Agreement.
Today, one year later, sobering news came from the bank’s headquarters in Luxembourg: the EIB Directors* approved a weak Climate Bank Roadmap 2021-2025. This Roadmap was supposed to be the key strategic document guiding the EIB’s transformation into the ‘EU Climate Bank’.
Despite a strong citizens and civil society mobilisation*, the new strategy falls short of ensuring the EIB will deliver on its climate commitments:
- The EIB funds may still come as blank cheques to polluters because clear requirements for EIB clients to adopt solid decarbonisation plans are absent from the Roadmap.
- The EIB is set to continue financing high-carbon projects like motorway or biomass projects which are fueling the climate crisis and destroying ever more natural resources.
- Under a transition period, the EIB will actually wait until the end of 2022 to stop supporting climaticide projects.
While the EIB has failed to become a true leader in the fight against climate change, the Roadmap is still a halfway step, as it contains a few elements that can push other financial institutions to improve. Despite its shortcomings, the Roadmap still makes climate change a priority for the EIB, and takes one noticeable step forward: the bank will not finance the expansion of airports anymore.
Xavier Sol, director at Counter Balance: “We are disappointed by the decisions of the European governments who adopted this Climate Roadmap. In practice, it means that the EIB will not become Paris-Aligned by the end of 2020. In light of the climate urgency, this is a missed opportunity for the financial arm of the EU to transform into the ‘EU Climate Bank’ and a blow to the European Green Deal”.
Anna Roggenbuck, policy officer at CEE Bankwatch Network: “The EIB promised to align all its operations with the Paris Agreement, but it is still letting polluting clients and financial intermediaries like private banks off the hook. This is not what we call being ‘Paris Aligned’. In these COVID-19 crisis times, there needs to be more control on the use of public funding to build back better our societies”.
Regine Richter, energy campaigner at urgewald: “In the next 5 years, it will still be possible for the self-proclaimed ‘EU Climate Bank’ to finance controversial motorways like the Strasbourg bypass in France or the A49 highway in Germany, which are not only bad for the climate but also cause great damage to biodiversity and human health”.
Elena Gerebizza, senior energy campaigner at Re:Common: “The EIB too quickly approved a weak Climate Roadmap, that is not addressing fundamental decisions like defining strict decarbonization criteria for EIB clients, including banks and investment funds who are financing the climate crisis. Moreover hiding behind the narrative of low carbon hydrogen, the EIB may continue to support the expansion of reckless gas infrastructure in Europe. This is unacceptable”.
* The EIB Board of Directors is made of the representatives of all EIB shareholders (the 27 Member States of the European Union) and the European Commission.
* See the joint campaign website of the Fossil Free EIB coalition: http://fossilfree-eib.eu/.