The European Investment Bank’s (EIB) management published a draft version of its new energy policy in July, which – if approved by the multilateral development bank’s board – would see it discontinue nearly all finance for fossil fuels from 2021.
According to online news site Euractiv, under the draft policy EIB would no longer finance, “upstream oil or gas production, coal mining, infrastructure dedicated to coal, oil and natural gas, and power generation or heat production from fossil fuel sources”. Exceptions could be made for very high-efficiency gas plants and heating boilers that are included in building renovation schemes. However, the EIB released a revised draft on 27 September, which civil society organisations (CSOs) claim contains a number of loopholes that potentially leave the door open for financing fossil fuels.
“The second draft of the energy policy is much weaker than the initial draft,” commented Xavier Sol of Belgium-based CSO Counter Balance. “Indeed, it opens up new loopholes on gas, and provides a window of opportunity for a last rush of dirty energy projects to be financed in the next year. In that context, NGOs who are part of the Fossil Free EIB campaign call on the most progressive EIB shareholders to stand firm in support on an ambitious energy policy, and to approve the initial draft as proposed by the EIB in July 2019.”
The EIB’s board began debating the proposed policy on 10 September, with a final decision expected in mid-October. If approved in its initial form, the policy would provide a new benchmark for other multilateral development banks, including the World Bank, as they seek to articulate their joint-approach to alignment with the Paris Agreement (see Observer Spring 2019).