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NGOs 350.org, SumOfUs, Reclaim Finance as well as Greenpeace have written to the European Central Bank (ECB) to demand that it stops supporting fossil fuel companies as part of its developing response to COVID-19. The letter comes three weeks ahead of the ECB governing council meeting of 10 December, where governors are expected to ramp up the Bank’s economic stimulus measures.
350.org campaigner Nick Bryer said: “It’s ridiculous that the European Central Bank talks about tackling the climate crisis, while supporting some of the world’s worst polluters. With its existing €1.47 trillion COVID-related asset purchase programme, the Bank may have already pumped up to €220 billion into high-carbon emitters like Shell and Total. And on the 10th of December the bank might double-down and channel billions more euros towards fossil fuel companies – unless they take deliberate steps to exclude them”
ECB President Christine Lagarde (pictured) has promised to “explore every avenue” in the fight against climate change, including considering using the Bank’s €2.8tn asset purchase schemes to pursue green objectives. Yet, in December, the central bank is likely to opt for additional asset purchases with no green strings attached.
Reclaim Finance campaigner Paul Schreiber said: “Next month’s meeting will demonstrate whether or not the ECB is truly committed to integrating climate into its operation. The central bank cannot be credible if it continues to support fossil fuel companies, that have no intention to respect the Paris-Agreement and aggressively plan to develop new fossil fuel projects.”
The open letter – also signed by Positive Money Europe, New Economics Foundation, Oil Change International and others – calls for the ECB to take two immediate steps in line with its commitments and while waiting for the results of its strategy review:
1) Exclude fossil fuel companies from corporate asset purchases, and
2) Pilot a green targeted long-term refinancing operations (TLTRO) programme to incentivize private banks to lend more money for green investments.
SumOfUs campaigner Leyla Larbi said: “Funding a “green” recovery and also funding the most climate-destructive companies around makes no sense at all. The European Commission’s Green Deal action plan is clearly being undermined by its own Central Bank, and that’s why more than 166,000 people across Europe are petitioning the ECB to change. The ECB can end all support to fossil fuel companies and support green investments with a green TLTRO programme.”
The letter echoes the voice of more than 160,000 people that signed a petition calling on the ECB to stop supporting polluters through its monetary policy.
- The open letter is available here.
- Reclaim Finance’s report on the ECB’s ongoing support to the fossil fuel industry available here. A specific brief on gas expansion is available here.
- NEF and Greenpeace’s report on the ECB’s asset purchases and their carbon bias is available here.
- Positive Money Europe and the Sustainable Finance Lab’s report on Green TLTRO is available here.
- Last month the KoalaKollektiv, a Frankfurt-based climate justice group, held a protest outside the ECB. Photos and videos are available here.