Environmental lawyers call on German govt to support ban on EIB gas lending
Clean Energy Wire / EurActiv
ClientEarth, an NGO of lawyers and environmental experts, has called on the German government to back the proposal to ban all fossil fuel projects, including natural gas, from the list of those eligible for European Investment Bank (EIB) support. In a letter addressed to German ministries ahead of the EIB Board meeting on 14 November – in which the bank plans to adopt a new set of lending rules – ClientEarth said the government would act in contradiction to EU law if it continued to oppose the proposal. In a separate letter sent to the EIB, the organisation said that continued gas lending would constitute a “clear breach” of the EIB’s legal duties. For example, investments in gas projects “would be inconsistent with the emission reductions and clean energy investment required by the Paris Agreement,” to which the EU is a signatory.
After the previous Board meeting on 15 October 2019, Germany was reportedly among the countries that opposed plans to purge the EIB’s loan books of all fossil fuels, including gas, by 2020. The German government considers the fossil fuel a “bridging technology” for the energy transition.
In a guest commentary in the German business weekly WirtschaftsWoche, Fridays for Future climate activist Luisa Neubauer wrote that the decision offers the opportunity for German finance minister Olaf Scholz to “prove his sense of responsibility as a finance politician in the climate crisis.”
EurActiv reported that the EIB is set to offer a compromise intended to win consensus among its 28 shareholders – the EU member states – which would include delaying the 2020 phase-out deadline for certain projects and offering advantageous lending conditions to all member states. EIB president Werner Hoyer told reporters on 11 November that it was too soon to predict Thursday’s decision, despite support from the EU’s finance ministers, who signed a joint statement on Friday in favour of scrapping fossil fuel funding, writes EurActiv.