EIB delays decision to phase out fossil fuel support

October 21st, 2019

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has delayed its decision to back a new energy lending policy that includes plans to phase out its support of fossil fuel-dependent projects.

In August, the EIB outlined a planned phase-out of support for projects that are “reliant” on fossil fuels by the end of 2020 in its draft Energy Lending Policy.

This includes projects linked directly to oil and gas production, infrastructure primarily dedicated to natural gas, and power or heat generation projects based on fossil fuels. 

Phasing out support for fossil fuel projects, the draft policy document states, reflects a decision to refocus the Bank’s resources on investments to meet the EU’s climate targets up to 2050.

There are challenging “high investment needs”, the draft report states, in order to achieve a decarbonised Europe by mid-century.

The EIB has provided investment funds to the energy sector since its foundation in 1957. Over the last five years, it loaned between €12 and 14 billion to the energy sector per year, with projects for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and energy grids increasingly favoured.

The report was due to be voted on at the meeting of the Bank’s board in September but the decision was delayed until this month’s meeting last week. Again, however, the board made up of representatives from every EU member state postponed the vote for at least another month.

The EIB’s latest decision, according to Colin Roche of Friends of the Earth Europe, is “extremely concerning” as the climate emergency “has no room for such dithering”.

In August, Mr Roche told The Green News that the draft document, if supported, would send a clear signal that Europe is “going full steam ahead towards a fossil-free future based on 100 per cent renewable energy”.

“With fires burning in the Arctic and temperature records being broken over and over again, [the EIB decision] cannot come too soon… It’s time stop this obvious craziness,” Mr Roche said at the time.

In addition to moving away from fossil fuels, the draft report set to be voted on in September stresses the need to maximize energy efficiency and support “innovative technologies and new types of energy infrastructure”. 

Such infrastructure includes different types of energy storage and new digital technologies which can “help to integrate high shares of renewables across different sectors of the economy”. 

The draft document also proposes establishing an Energy Transition Package to assist “potentially vulnerable groups or regions” in such the energy transition. 

Pressure has been mounting on the Irish Government to provide its own transition assistance to coal and peat communities.

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