Tagged: Europe


The mandate of the European Investment Bank (EIB) is to further EU sustainable development objectives, including Europe’s 2050 Energy Roadmap, which calls for quickly cutting carbon emissions. On their website, the EIB claims to be "among the largest providers of finance for climate action." But they fail to mention one little detail: They also make massive loans to coal-fired power plants and other dirty energy sources.

So Counter Balance teamed up with the Yes Lab to reveal the EIB's hypocrisy. The day before the Bank was scheduled to have its exclusive annual press conference, the activists sent out a fake EIB press release announcing that the Bank would finally do the right thing and stop financing coal power plants. The story was immediately picked up by business press, and the EIB responded with a denial, threatening legal retaliation.

At the press conference the next day, a Counterbalance agent with journalist’s credentials gained entry to the exclusive event and presented EIB President Werner Hoyer with a stunning award, thanking him and the bank for their commitment to divestment from fossil fuels. If only! Until they change, we’ve all got to suck their second-hand smoke. Thanks, Europe!

Selected Press:


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February 28, 2013

Dreams of European Investment Bank Quitting Coal Go Up in Smoke – For Now
Climate activists take responsibility for fake press release, bizarre award ceremony

Brussels -- The European Investment Bank (EIB) president Werner Hoyer was forced to say this morning, during the EIB’s annual press conference, that an announcement that the bank would give up lending to coal was "pure nonsense". And this, despite the fact that Hoyer repeatedly referred to the EIB as a frontrunner in the fight against climate change. 
The contradictory statements from the EIB came as a result of a sophisticated activist campaign that culminated in a curious confrontation inside the European Council building this morning.
The ruse began yesterday afternoon, when a fake press release announced that the EIB was divesting from coal. Several news outlets picked it up as real, including Bloomberg, who quickly discovered their error, pulled the report, and posted a retraction
The EIB posted a denial on their website and threatened legal action, but that did not stop the  activists, who continued to hound them at their exclusive annual press conference this morning. 
After Hoyer presented the activities of the EIB during 2012, including the bank's efforts on climate change, he was approached by a self-identified "citizen of Europe", who offered him an elegant flower vase shaped like a smokestack. 
"I am very pleased to present this award to the European Investment Bank," said the citizen, "to honor your commitment to divest from Coal, and finally commit to real action on climate change." 
Despite hesitating for a second whether to get the "European citizen" kicked out, the EIB decided he posed no real threat and allowed him to continue staying in the room, while keeping the award on the stage for some time. 
Upon receiving the award, a confounded Hoyer said that "we have always been grateful for the ingenuity of our journalist partners" and quickly moved on to the next issue on the press conference agenda.
Yet the climate issue and energy lending by the EIB stayed on the media's mind, and numerous questions addressed in the Q&A section of the press conference pressed the EIB to explain more about the bank's efforts against climate change. Representatives of the bank mostly pointed to the upcoming review of the bank's energy policy (due in June); the EIB made it clear it was not ready to announce dropping coal from the bank's lending at the moment, and made it clear that gas will continue to be a central segment of EIB lending in the future. 
The "citizen of Europe" was really a representative of Counter Balance, a coalition of NGOs across Europe that monitor the EIB. The action was developed with the help of the Yes Lab. 
"We wanted to show to the bank how European citizens expect the EIB to behave," said Berber Verpoest of Counter Balance. 
The EIB is the house bank of the EU, mandated to further EU objectives including Europe's 2050 Energy Roadmap which calls for an 80-95 percent emissions reduction over the next four decades in Europe. The EIB's website claims the bank is "among the largest providers of finance for climate action in pursuit of the EU's goal of low-carbon and climate resilient growth." What is not mentioned, however, are the massive loans to coal-fired power plants and other dirty energy initiatives that the EIB has provided also over the last years. 
"The presentation of this award and the hoax press release from yesterday were meant to emphasise the deep contradiction at the heart of the EIB," explains Berber Verpoest from Counter Balance. "On the one hand, this is the bank of the EU with the goal to fight climate change; on the other hand, the EIB has been lending billions to coal, gas and other fossil fuels and until last year its dirty energy loans were equal to its support for clean energy. So with the hoax we wanted to make clear what we expect the future energy policy to look like."
The European Investment Bank is this year reviewing its energy lending policy, a revision which only happens once every 5-6 years. Considering that climate science makes it clear we cannot invest any more in fossil fuel infrastructure after 2017 if we want to contain global warming within 2 degrees Celsius, the current policy revision is the only chance this bank has to set its lending in line with the climate imperative. 
"The EIB has been working hard over the past years to clean up its lending," says Xavier Sol from Counter Balance. "We commend them for those efforts and we hope that they take this hoax for what it really is: not so much an attempt to make fun, but an alarm bell that time is running out and subsidies for fossil fuels must be ended today if we want to avoid catastrophe."
Key Figures:
  • EIB lones to coal 2007-2011: €2 billion
  • EIB loans to fossil fuels 2007-2011: €19 billion
  • EIB total energy loans 2007-2011: €62 billion

Coal plants financed by EIB since 2007:

  • Du-Walsum Coal Power Plant in Germany, 2007
  • PPC Environment in Greece, 2007
  • Enel Energia Rinnovable & Ambiente in Italy, 2007
  • TES - THERMAL Power Plant in Slovenia, 2007 and 2010
  • Power Plant Karlsruhe in Germany, 2008
  • Fortum CHP and E-Metering in Poland, 2009
  • SE Power Plant and Forest Industry R&D in Poland, 2010
  • South Poland CHP in Poland, 2011
  • Paroseni Power Plant in Romania, 2011

For more info, see the EIB's project database and Bankwatch's studies and analysis.

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February 27, 2013

EIB will exclude all future coal finance as part of its new energy policy

Brussels - The European Investment Bank (EIB) will no longer finance coal fired power plants. The decision is being made in the context of the ongoing review of its Energy Lending Policy in order to better align the bank’s operations with the long-term climate objectives of the European Union. The EIB is the largest international financial institution to exclude coal from its lending operations. 
Ahead of a presentation in Brussels of the EIB’s 2012 lending activities, EIB president Werner Hoyer said, “In January the Governors of the European Investment Bank unanimously voted to increase the bank’s capital base by EUR 10 billion in order to finance priority sectors including clean energy. Their decision is an unambiguous message that the EIB is committed to achieving the climate objectives of the European Union, including the long-term perspective set out in the 2050 energy roadmap. Restricting support for fossil fuels sends two important signals: a political one to the world that the EIB is a leader on action to combat climate change, and a financial one to the capital markets that the EIB sees energy efficiency and renewable energy as the investments of the future.”
In recent years, the EIB has significantly increased its lending to renewables and energy efficiency. In 2010, Climate Action lending had already reached 30 percent of the bank’s overall portfolio, a positive trend which will continue under the new Energy Lending Policy. 
The EIB, which last year allocated approximately twenty percent of its EUR 60 billion portfolio, or EUR 13 billion, to the energy sector, will continue to boost its support for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. As much as 60 percent of EIB lending could be allocated to the Climate Action Programme by 2020.
Press Contact:
Philippe Wallace,  +32 484 610 931, p.wallace@europeaninvestmentbank.org
Press office: +32 2840 5948, press@europeaninvestmentbank.org
Notes to Editors:
The European Investment Bank (EIB) is the long-term lending institution of the European Union owned by its Member States. It makes long-term finance available for sound investment in order to contribute towards EU policy goals.


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