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EIB launches ambitious new climate strategy and energy lending policy

The Board of Directors of the European Investment Bank (EIB) has recently agreed upon a new energy lending policy and confirmed the EIB’s increased ambition in climate action and environmental sustainability. The move will see the EIB align all financing activities with the goals of the Paris Agreement from the end of 2020, end financing for fossil fuel energy projects from the end of 2021 and unlock EUR 1 trillion of climate action and environmental sustainable investment in the decade to 2030.

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On November 14, 2019, the Board of Directors of the European Investment Bank (EIB) agreed upon a new energy lending policy and confirmed the EIB’s increased ambition in climate action and environmental sustainability. The move will see the EIB align all financing activities with the goals of the Paris Agreement from the end of 2020, end financing for fossil fuel energy projects from the end of 2021 and unlock EUR 1 trillion of climate action and environmentally sustainable investment in the decade to 2030.

The decision on November 14, 2019, by the European Investment Bank (EIB) board, ends an open and inclusive review process that involved industry, institutions, civil society, and the public at large. Intensive stakeholder engagement since January produced more than 149 written submissions from concerned organisations and individuals and petitions signed by more than 30 000 people.

Climate is the top issue on the political agenda of our time. Scientists estimate that we are currently heading for 3-4°C of temperature increase by the end of the century. If that happens, large portions of our planet will become uninhabitable, with disastrous consequences for people around the world, said EIB President Werner Hoyer.

Over the last five years, the EIB has provided more than EUR 65 billion of financing for renewable energy, energy efficiency, and energy distribution.

The EU bank has been Europe’s climate bank for many years. Today it has decided to make a quantum leap in its ambition. We will stop financing fossil fuels and we will launch the most ambitious climate investment strategy of any public financial institution anywhere. I would like to thank the shareholders of the bank, the EU Member States, for their cooperation over the past months. We look forward to working closely with them and with the EU Council of Ministers, with the European Commission, the European Parliament, international and financial institutions and, crucially, with the private sector, to support a climate-neutral European economy by 2050, said Hoyer.

The new energy lending policy details five principles that will govern future EIB engagement in the energy sector:

  • prioritising energy efficiency with a view to supporting the new EU target under the EU Energy Efficiency Directive;
  • enabling energy decarbonisation through increased support for low or zero-carbon technology, aiming to meet a 32 percent renewable energy share throughout the EU by 2030;
  • increasing financing for decentralised energy production, innovative energy storage, and e-mobility;
  • ensuring grid investment essential for new, intermittent energy sources like wind and solar as well as strengthening cross-border interconnections;
  • increasing the impact of investment to support energy transformation outside the EU.

No financing for “unabated” fossil fuel projects

Following the approval of the revised energy lending policy, the EIB will no longer consider new financing for “unabated”, fossil fuel energy projects, including gas, from the end of 2021 onwards.

In addition, the bank set a new Emissions Performance Standard of 250g of carbon dioxide (CO2) per kilowatt-hour (kWh) which will replace the current 550gCO2/kWh standard.

Five EU countries are looking to introduce new fossil fuel subsidies by 2030, analysis of the 28 Member States’ draft energy and climate plans has revealed. Despite long-standing commitments to ending fossil fuel subsidies, none of the EU Member States comprehensively report on their fossil fuel subsidies nor provide plans to phase them out. Following the approval of the revised energy lending policy, the European Investment Bank (EIB) will no longer consider new financing for “unabated”, fossil fuel energy projects, including gas, from the end of 2021 onwards.

A previous review of energy lending in 2013 had already enabled the EIB to be the first international financial institution to effectively end financing for coal and lignite power generation through the adoption of a strict Emissions Performance Standard.

Carbon emissions from the global energy industry reached a new record high in 2018. We must act urgently to counter this trend. The EIB’s ambitious energy lending policy adopted today is a crucial milestone in the fight against global warming. Following a long discussion we have reached a compromise to end the financing by the EU Bank of unabated fossil fuel projects, including gas, from the end of 2021. I am grateful for all those who have contributed to the largest ever public consultation on EIB lending in recent months and energy expert colleagues who have outlined how the EU bank can drive global efforts to decarbonise energy, said Andrew McDowell, EIB Vice-President in charge of energy.

Ensuring a just energy transition

Ten EU countries face specific energy investment challenges. The EIB will work closely with the European Commission to support investment by a Just Transition Fund.

The EIB will be able to finance up to 75 percent of the eligible project cost for new energy investment in these countries. These projects will also benefit from both advisory and financial support from the EIB.

New ambition for climate action and environmental sustainability

The EU bank has been Europe’s climate bank for a long time. Since 2012, the EIB provided EUR 150 billion of finance supporting EUR 550 billion of investment in projects that reduce emissions and help countries adapt to the impacts of climate change.

This made the EIB one of the world’s largest multilateral providers of finance for projects supporting these objectives.

The EIB Board of Directors also approved a new strategy for climate action and environmental sustainability. This includes three key elements:

  • The EIB Group will aim to support EUR 1 trillion of investments in climate action and environmental sustainability in the critical decade from 2021 to 2030;
  • The EIB will gradually increase the share of its financing dedicated to climate action and environmental sustainability to reach 50% of its operations in 2025 and from then on;
  • The EIB Group will align all its financing activities with the principles and goals of the Paris Agreement by the end of 2020. In the near future, this will be complemented by measures to ensure EIB financing contributes to a just transition for those regions or countries more affected so that no one is left behind.

To meet the Paris climate goals we urgently need to raise our level of ambition and this is precisely what we have done today. Two weeks before the United Nations climate change conference in Madrid, these decisions send an important signal to the world: The European Union and its bank, the EIB, commit to mobilise investments on an unprecedented scale to support climate action projects around the world. In addition, we commit to aligning all EIB Group activities with the principles and goals of the Paris agreement by the end of 2020. Any financing that is not green will be made sustainable, according to the requirements of the Paris deal, said EIB Vice-President Emma Navarro, in charge of climate action and environment.

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