European Investment Bank Cuts Ties With Oil And Coal Industries

Clean energy is the power of the future that we need right now, especially in the fight against climate change, which is why the European Investment Bank is finally cutting ties with the fossil fuel industry in a move that is drawing praise from environmental groups.

Immediate action is necessary if we want to combat the climate crisis and prevent the worst impacts of it.

One of those actions we can take right now is to abandon fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas in favor of clean energy sources such as solar and wind.

As the world’s largest public bank, the European Investment Bank (EIB) is a major source of lending to the fossil fuel industry. But not anymore. In a landmark announcement last week, the EIB will no longer fund fossil fuels by the end of 2021, shifting lending policies toward clean energy projects instead.

“Climate is the top issue on the political agenda of our time,” EIB President Werner Hoyer said in a press release. “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. 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.”

Scientists have already warned that a 1.5-2°C rise in temperature will result in uncontrollable climate change that will cause stronger hurricanes, more wildfires, and much hotter temperatures that will, in turn, result in more droughts and water insecurity.

The EIB’s decision is also timely, as VP Andrew McDowell explained in the same release.

“Carbon emissions from the global energy industry reached a new record high in 2018,” he said. “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 decarbonize energy.”

While the move is being praised by climate activists, they are also stressing that the decision should take effect immediately instead of phasing the lending out over the next two years, which would allow the fossil fuel industry to continue poisoning the planet for a profit.

“Today’s decision is a significant victory for the climate movement,” Friends of the Earth Europe campaigner Colin Roche said in a statement. “Finally, the world’s largest public bank has bowed to public pressure and recognized that funding for all fossil fuels must end—and now all other banks, public and private must follow their lead. But 2021 is still too late if we are to avoid the worst effects of climate breakdown, the EIB needs to reject any fossil fuel projects and close its loopholes for gas, and not wait till 2021.”

Still, the decision is a big deal and could influence other financial institutions to cut their own ties with the fossil fuel industry as well.

Featured Image: Wikimedia

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Stephen D. Foster Jr.

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