Voting today on the 2009 annual report of the European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Parliament (EP) has called on the bank to "bring its operations fully into line with an EU objective of a swift transition to a low-carbon economy and to adopt a plan for the phase-out of fossil fuel lending.”

Piotr Trzaskowski, CEE Bankwatch Network climate and energy coordinator, commented, "The EP vote today is a clear warning for the EIB, Europe’s house bank, that it cannot continue to use European public money to finance projects which blatantly contradict the EU’s climate objectives.”

"This is a very strong signal from the Parliament. It means the EIB needs to make a radical changes in its lending portfolio since fossil fuels currently account for such a large share of the bank’s lending,” says Counter Balance Coordinator Desislava Stoyanova.

According to Bankwatch research, between 2002 and 2008, fossil fuels accounted for 48 percent of the bank’s energy lending. (1) This year, while EU leaders strengthened their commitments to reduce GHG emissions by 80-95 percent by 2050 compared to 1990 levels, the EIB lent its first €110 million tranche for a new 600 MW block at Sostanj lignite plant in Slovenia. (2) In March, the bank also agreed to loan up to €75 million to a new unit at coal-fired Bielsko-Biała cogeneration plant in Poland(3). According to Bankwatch, more investments in Polish coal can be expected this year. "Fossil fuel infrastructure financed today will last beyond 2050 making the decarbonistion of the EU’s energy sector impossible. The EU bank should not participate in this shady business,” said Trzaskowski.

„EIB lending needs to be more sustainable not just inside Europe but also outside the EU boundaries,” added Stoyanova. „That’s why we equally welcome the Parliament’s call on the bank to focus on investments in renewables in developing countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.”

Notes for the editors: