Ahead of tomorrow’s Board vote on the EBRD loan to CEMEX Egypt, a number of civil society organisations urge the bank to reject this project not only because it involves support for dirty coal-based production but also because it actually means promoting the plans of a repressive government despite opposition from civil society.

On February 25, the EBRD Board of Directors is expected to vote on whether to approve or not a loan of up to €50 million to Assiut Cement Company, an Egypt subsidiary of multinational CEMEX, which would constitute almost the entire costs of a programme of “fuel conversion and environmental upgrade”. In reality, the loan would allow the company to switch from natural gas to a combination of coal and alternative fuels for its cement production operations.

"This is a loan that goes completely in the wrong direction, by making the switch from natural gas to coal which is much more polluting. Egypt does not have domestic coal so the country will need to construct the whole import infrastructure from scratch with all the costs that it entails and taking away the money from the burning social issues that plague the majority of the Egyptian citizens” says Bankwatch’s MENA coordinator Kuba Gogolewski. “Of great concern are also the heavy metals such as mercury and lead which will be released in Egypt’s waterways as a result of these industrial processes, especially in the context of this country’s poor track record in addressing industrial water pollution.”

“In addition, this project is promoted by the undemocratic government of Egypt, to the benefit of the cement industry which is very powerful in this country, and in opposition to civil society which has been campaigning against the switch to coal,” says Xavier Sol Director of CounterBalance. “The EBRD, which has a mandate to promote democracy in its countries of operation, should not be seen anywhere near this project which would please multinationals and a repressive government and pass the pollution costs onto the citizens who have been opposing it."

Notes for the editors:

  1. This press release is issued by CEE Bankwatch Network, Counter Balance, CNCD-1111, The Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR), The Habi Centre for Environmental Rights, Platform and urgewald.
  2. Read the letter sent by Bankwatch and other NGOs to the EBRD concerning this loan: http://bankwatch.org/sites/default/files/letter-EBRD-Egypt-gas2coal-20Feb2015.pdf
  3. Read about EBRD support for Egyptian coal projects: http://bankwatch.org/bwmail/59/concrete-boots-already-new-ebrd-energy-policy-potential-support-egyptian-coal-projects- and http://bankwatch.org/news-media/blog/guest-post-ebrd-justification-supporting-coal-egypts-cement-industry-negligent