The European Investment Bank should withdraw from gas investments
The European Investment Bank EIB should get rid of its gas-investments, and the Netherlands can take the lead in this. The Netherlands appears to be relying less and less on gas in its energy policy, and also seems to focus on gas-free investments at the EIB. Now it is important to maintain this position and also convince the other EU countries.
The countries of the European Union will soon be taking a decision on the EIB's energy policy. Banks often see the creation of money by providing credit as a politically neutral instrument to serve and support the economy, and therefore it would normally not be a logical step for the EIB itself to be at the center of a political debate on energy policy. But the bank has an important role to play in the European solutions to the climate crisis. The EIB's energy strategy does in fact matter in achieving the climate targets agreed upon internationally in Paris.
Gas is fossil too
After years of political and public pressure, the EIB has already largely stopped investing in coal and oil, and that is an important step. But from 2013 onwards, the EIB still invested EUR 14.2 billion in gas projects. The majority of this money was allocated to the construction of pipelines. Gas is often seen as a renewable energy source, while it is by no means. Although burning gas produces fewer emissions than burning coal, the EU will certainly not achieve its climate goals within the agreed time if it keeps focusing on gas.
For the climate it is crucial that the use of gas as an energy source stops completely and as soon as possible and therefore Both ENDS believes that the EIB should no longer invest in gas projects. Even EIB's Vice President Andrew McDowell recently told Radio Luxembourg that the story of gas as a "clean transition energy source" needs further consideration.
The Netherlands must convince other countries
This is the first time that someone from the Bank - which was financing a gas pipeline just two years ago to bring gas from Azerbaijan to the EU – dares to make such a statement. Based on the talks that are being held this month by the European countries within the EIB about the Bank's new energy strategy, the Netherlands seems to be taking this position too. Our country could urge other EU-countries to take the same position, although the question is how.
The European Investment Bank is a European institution, but the individual countries are shareholders. Until now, the countries are rather divided among themselves about the use of fossil energy as an energy source and about the period within which this should be phased out. Some countries want to keep access to EIB financing for gas and a country like Poland is not even ready to phase out coal extraction and use.
The most virtuous boy in the classroom
The position of the Netherlands is, however, rather surprising because in a recent past our country made eager use of EIB money to become the 'gas roundabout' of Europe, to enable trade and storage of foreign gas. For example, the EIB has invested in the LNG terminal on Rotterdam's Maasvlakte and in the Gasunie distribution network. This fact may make it more difficult for the Netherlands to convince other countries that the EIB should stop investing in gas, because it could seem opportunistic. After all, the Netherlands already has what it wanted, and would now suddenly pretend to be the most virtuous boy in the classroom.
From an environmental point of view, it is of course good to support the Netherlands in its position that the bank should no longer invest in gas, regardless of the underlying motives. In this process, it is important to interact diplomatically with other countries and to work together with other progressive countries such as Sweden.
European Commission has a role to play
In addition, the new European Commission might play a key role. The Commission itself is on the Bank's board and works with a list of possible energy projects to be subsidized, helping Europe to be sustainable. The Commission therefore has the power to exclude gas projects from this list. It can also exclude gas projects for EU guarantees on EIB loans and monitor EIB compliance with the Paris agreement.
The European Parliament also has a role to play, because the investments that the EIB makes outside Europe fall under the EU's foreign policy, in which the European Parliament has a say. In that role, the European Parliament can also address and question the European Commission about EIB investments.
Decision making within the EIB is a public matter
Yet decision-making could be even more democratic. Topics such as the EIB's energy and climate strategy have been closed behind closed doors, while it concerns public money for projects that are directly related to European policy. It would therefore be logical to make these negotiations transparent and to move them to the democratic domain of the European Parliament.
For more information
Read more about this subject
Development banks should comply with strict environmental and human rights rules to ensure that their projects benefit and do not harm the poorest groups. Both ENDS monitors the banks to make sure they do.
Publication / 25 December 2015
News / 8 November 2019
On Thursday November 7th, a group of European NGO's including Both ENDS, sent a letter to Vice-President of the EU Frans Timmermans, in which they ask him to support the phase out of European Investment Bank’s fossil fuel financing by the end of 2020.
News / 18 November 2019
Good news for the climate: last week, the European Investment Bank (EIB) decided to stop investing in fossil fuels by 2021. This is part of its new energy strategy.
News / 30 July 2019
The European Investment Bank (EIB) has published its new policy for energy investments. In the new draft policy, the bank states to stop investing in fossil fuel related projects from 2020. This is good news for the climate, so Both ENDS and partners are happy with this draft policy. The shareholders of the bank, the member states of the European Union, still have to approve it.
Blog / 12 July 2019
and Stijn Deklerck of Amnesty International Nederland
On 12 and 13 July, the Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank (AIIB) will be holding its annual meeting in Luxembourg. This is the fourth annual meeting of the AIIB which was set up on the initiative of China. As a shareholder, the Netherlands will be attending the meeting.
Publication / 10 December 2018
Publication / 11 February 2016
Publication / 30 June 2017
In 2011 one of the world’s largest gas reserves was found in the coastal province of Cabo Delgado, in the north of Mozambique. A total of 35 billion dollars has been invested to extract the gas. Dozens of multinationals and financiers are involved in these rapid developments. It is very difficult for the people living in Cabo Delgado to exert influence on the plans and activities, while they experience the negative consequences. With the arrival of these companies, they are losing their land.
Press release / 7 May 2019
Brussels, 7 May 2019 - In an unprecedented Climate Action Call published today, a broad coalition is urging European leaders to take decisive action to respond to the climate emergency. Hundreds of European cities, regions, businesses, youth and faith groups and civil society organisations working on climate, human rights, litigation, mobilization, sports and health call upon leaders to profoundly alter the way we run our societies and economies to limit temperature rise to 1.5°C.
Together with civil society organisations from all over the world, the Fair Green and Global (FGG) Alliance aims for socially just, inclusive and environmentally sustainable societies in the Netherlands and the Global South.
News / 4 October 2017
On September 20th FMO published its new position statements on human rights, land governance and gender. We appreciate that FMO takes human rights serious and applaud the efforts that have been made to come to an improved position on human rights, land and gender. However, to truly have a positive impact on people and the environment, some important follow up steps are necessary.
News / 11 December 2017
Yesterday, the French President Macron, the President of the World Bank Group, Jim Yong Kim, and the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, met with international leaders and committed citizens from around the world in Paris. According to the organisers, the aim of this gathering was to 'address the ecological emergency for our planet' as 'two years to the day after the historic Paris Agreement, it is time for concrete action.'
Publication / 17 November 2019
Almost two-thirds of the export credit insurances that Atradius DSB provided in the 2012-2018 period went to the fossil energy sector. That is contrary to the climate agreements that the Netherlands signed in Paris.
Press release / 27 September 2017
Despite climate agreements, the Netherlands supports the fossil sector with 7.6 billion euros a year
Although outgoing economics minister Henk Kamp stated in May of this year that fossil fuels are not subsidised in the Netherlands, a report out today shows that this is clearly not the case. The report. ‘Phase-Out 2020: Monitoring Europe’s fossil fuel subsidies’, by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and Climate Action Network Europe (CAN-Europe), says that the Netherlands is supporting the fossil sector at home and abroad with more than 7.6 billion euros a year (1). The Netherlands made international agreements as long ago as 2009 (2) to ban subsidies for fossil fuels. Environment NGO Milieudefensie and Both ENDS – both members of CAN-Europe – call attention to these findings because they find it unacceptable that the government perpetuates our dependence on fossil fuels in this way.
News / 8 November 2018
Every 10 years, the mandate and activities of 'Export Development Canada' (EDC), the Canadian export credit agency, are reviewed. Since the last review took place in 2008, another review is currently underway. Both ENDS and a couple of other CSOs working from a number of countries made a joint submission as formal input to the legislative review. We did this especially in light of the Canadian governments' ambition to show leadership on climate change and to prioritise climate change action and clean economic growth.
External link / 10 December 2018
An Open Letter to States and Development Financiers on the need to ensure that development interventions support the realization of human rights, safeguard human rights defenders and guarantee meaningful public participation
Video / 18 March 2015
Senegal is one of the countries with the highest amount of effective sunshine on earth. Instead of using the 3000 hours of sunshine a year as a source of energy, 2 new coal fired power plants are now being built with the help of the Dutch development bank FMO, using public money. This video shows the consequences for the local population.