According to a new study by the NGO coalition Counter Balance, it’s clear the EIB needs to step up its game in the field of transport. The bank’s current approach needs to undergo radical change if it is to help the EU decarbonize its transport sector and achieve the objectives of the European Green Deal.

The EIB is currently trying to transform itself into the ‘EU Climate Bank’. In November 2020 it adopted a roadmap aimed at aligning all of its operations with the 1.5°C objective of the Paris Agreement.

The report The EIB and Transport Investments: Making EU public finance transform mobility across Europe and beyond” however exposes how the Bank’s current approach to transport is still far from being Paris-aligned. From 2016 to 2020, the EIB has invested more than €4 billion in loans for the expansion of airports, €12,6 billion for roads, highways and motorways and almost €3 billion in polluting investments for the maritime sector.

In 2021, the EIB will review its Transport Policy. This new policy will guide EIB investments in the sector for years to come. This review, which should be subject to a public consultation, will be an opportunity to align the EIB’s transport portfolio with the objectives of the Paris Agreement.

The recently adopted Climate Roadmap introduces important steps forward, with an unprecedented ban on airport expansions” says Clara Bourgin, Policy and Advocacy Officer at Counter Balance. “However, there are other high-carbon activities that need to be excluded if the EIB is to live up to its ambition. This includes putting a stop to the bank’s support to motorways and highway expansions.”

A ban on the expansion of motorways and highways is a core demand of a broad coalition of environmental and climate NGOs as part of the ‘Fossil Free EIB’ campaign. In the last years, the bank has provided loans to several projects that have been heavily contested by civil society.

One example is the EIB’s recent loan to a controversial motorway in Germany, the construction of which will result in the destruction of around 27 hectares of forest. This forest houses trees that are over 200 years old.

The report also raises concerns on the EIB’s generous support to the automotive industry, polluting investment in the maritime sector, and alternative fuels with dubious environmental benefits.

“Considering the urgent need to decarbonize EU mobility, public funding should prioritise low carbon transport modes such as public transport, bike lanes and rail, instead of continuing to support projects that will only lock us further in polluting transport systems”, continues Clara Bourgin.

“If redirected towards truly transformative projects, EIB investments could make a big difference in helping the EU transition to low carbon economies. But for that to happen the EIB needs to take action and adopt an ambitious Transport policy aligned with its climate commitments. If not, the EIB risks undermining the objectives of the European Green Deal and will fail to become the EU Climate Bank.” adds Xavier Sol, Director at Counter Balance.

2021 Counter Balance Transport Briefing Online title page

The EIB and Transport Investments: Making EU public finance transform mobility across Europe and beyond