EU investment bank will turn into 'climate bank,' says EIB head Hoyer
The head of the European Investment Bank (EIB), Werner Hoyer, says the EIB will turn into a "climate bank" and expand the share of climate-related activities in its portfolio to 50 percent over the next years. "We regard climate action as a mandate for innovation," Hoyer told the news website Focus Online in an interview. Hoyer, a member of the German pro-business party FDP, said he welcomes the announcement by designated European Commission leader Ursula von der Leyen to establish a "Green Deal" in the EU and that his bank was ready to transform "even the most dire coal regions" into "something else and modern." Asked about the recent row between Germany and other EU members over continuing EIB investment in natural gas projects, which Germany regards as a "bridge technology" for its energy transition, Hoyer said such a "fundamental decision" would require a broad consensus. "We're not looking for romantic climate adventures but for business models that make Europe a technological leader," Hoyer said, warning that investments in fossil infrastructure have long-term implications and might lead to stranded assets. "Those who want to use it as a bridge technology could fund it themselves," he suggested. Regarding the funding of nuclear power, which is desired by France, Hoyer warned against a "fundamental dispute" in the EU and stressed that the EIB has not funded any nuclear projects for many years.
Media reports in October said Germany could block EIB plans to purge its loan books of fossil fuels, including natural gas, leading researchers to call on the German government to back banning natural gas from the EIB support list. A decision on the contentious issue has been postponed to November. Germany's government has started to work on its own national strategy to better integrate financial and climate policy and ensure that investments do not undermine emissions reduction goals.