New EIB policy against EU principles, say climate activists

Environmentalists have reacted angrily to the European Investment Bank (EIB)’s draft energy lending policy, the result of a review process launched last year.

The EIB announced on 24 June the contents of its draft policy, which will be put to shareholders next month.

According to a press statement, the EIB’s new lending policy aims to align the institution with “relevant EU sector policies,” and “are fully aligned with EU policy priorities to deliver economic growth, energy security and sustainable development.”

The announcement comes as the bank, along with other financial institutions, has come under fire from NGOs over its continued policy of lending to large-scale energy infrastructure projects in the western Balkans, rather than promote energy efficiency, which, according to campaigners, is damaging the EU accession ambitions of these countries.

According to the environmental NGO WWF, the draft lending policy is a clear sign that the EIB “does not see stopping investment in unsustainable fuels like fossil fuels or nuclear energy as a priority.” In a statement, the organisation said that “the EIB needs to change its focus immediately and support only renewable energy and energy conservation, to reach climate change target.” The WWF has expressed concerns that with this policy review, the bank do not support a 2°C climate change limit in Europe by 20150.

Jason Anderson, head of European climate and energy policy at WWF said that the NGO is “disappointed that the EIB still doesn’t accept renewables as the new norm in energy production.” He said that WWF will continue to pressure the EIB though its Seize Your Power campaign, aimed at alerting financial institutions to the consequences of their lending policies.

According to Anna Roggenbuck from Bankwatch, the new EIB policy represents a missed opportunity. “Reading the draft energy policy proposed by the EIB, I was left to wonder whether the bank has grasped the full extent of the evidence provided by climate science,” she said.

“The proposed draft would allow the EIB to finance new coal units in Poland or the S lignite plant in Bosnia and Herzegovina and potentially other similar projects around the Balkans. This is absolutely not the type of projects the bank of the European Union should be endorsing if it is to further the EU’s long term climate objectives.”

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