Climate activists and researchers laud Germany's backing of EIB fossil ban
Clean Energy Wire
The decision by Germany's government to back a ban on funding fossil fuel projects by 2021 by the European Investment Bank (EIB) has been welcomed by climate activists and researchers. The German government had been expected to abstain from a vote due to the country's strategy to make natural gas a key component on its path to decarbonisation. However, after the decision finance minister Olaf Scholz (SPD) said: "The EIB becomes a climate bank and supports investments to protect our climate. We have done our part in this and Germany has agreed to the new guidelines."
The decision would have "a long-lasting impact on financial markets," said Claudia Kemfert, climate economist at the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW). In an e-mailed statement, Kemfert said it was necessary to stop all investments in fossil fuels if the Paris Climate Agreement's goals are to be reached and called the EIB's announcement "a game changer" that could help a great deal in putting to European Union on track for achieving climate neutrality by 2050. "Even if there's still a backdoor for fossil gas included, this is an important and necessary step in the right direction,” she said.
The EIB's decision marked "an important signal for the entire financial market," said Christoph Bals, head of NGO Germanwatch. Funding fossil fuel projects would now become much more difficult, Bals said, adding he welcomes that Germany's environment ministry (BMU) and economy ministry (BMWi) were able to eventually overcome its differences, allowing the German government to back the decision after weeks of disputes. "Fortunately the German government managed to not be an obstacle for climate action at the EU level in a last-minute move," Bals said.
The EIB's decision still provides for waivers for very energy-efficient natural gas plants after 2021 if there are provisions to also make these plants compatible with synthetic gas produced with renewable energy, a technology that the German government regards as crucial for achieving climate neutrality.