June 4th 2020. Today, the ECB Governing Council held a meeting to decide how its response to the Covid crisis will develop. Despite a growing mobilization and multiple calls, coming from all the corners of society, the ECB is sticking to its guns: it will keep on funding big polluters, including fossil fuel companies. At odds with both the EU Commission’s intentions and its own climate statements, the ECB durably weakens chances of a green and just recovery.

The ECB Governing Council gathered today to discuss the rest of its response to the Covid crisis. The response, already historic in scale, was further strengthened with 600 billion euros more in asset purchases in 2020-2021, for a total of 1 700 billion planned asset purchases and 1 470 billion for Covid-related asset purchases alone.

This meeting was a key opportunity to put the ECB’s monetary policy at the service of the ecological transition, thus responding to economical urgency while building a fairer, more sustainable society, and avoiding future Covid-like shocks. However, the governors decided to fully ignore this major issue.

Today, the Governing Council failed to integrate climate into both the “business as usual” monetary policy and the crisis response. Even worse, they committed to finance big polluters and fossil fuel companies without any regard for European climate objectives. This ignored the calls from 45 NGOs demanding that the ECB deliver a profound shift on climate integration at this decision-making meeting.

Paul Schreiber, campaigner at Reclaim Finance, indicates:The ECB, its President Christine Lagarde, and governors, like François Villeroy De Galhau, are simultaneously acknowledging climate urgency and refusing to act. This stance is unbearable, we now know that the ECB is not neutral but finance climate change. If the ECB’s President claims that by buying a few green bonds of the ECB contributes to the ecological transition, she cannot say that it does not contribute to climate chaos when it massively buys bonds linked to new fossil fuel projects.

The asset purchases that the ECB just decided to strengthen are especially to blame. Reclaim Finance showed that quantitative easing finances 38 fossil fuel companies, including 10 active in coal and 4 in shale oil and gas. Most of these companies – like Shell or Total – plan on greatly increasing their fossil fuel production and one of them – Fortum – is even involved in the opening of a new German coal power plant. According to Greenpeace, the ECB’s Covid-related asset purchases already funded fossil fuels to up to 7.6 billion.

Thus, the 600 billion euros increase in asset purchases could finance polluters to up to 90 billion. Therefore, the ECB could channel up to 220 billion to these companies while indiscriminately buying corporate assets to respond to the crisis.

Leyla Larbi, campaigner at SumOfUs, said:The ECB is playing both fire-fighter and arsonist by strengthening multinational corporations pushing our climate to the brink with billions of euros. Tackling climate chaos is not a vague commitment to put down on paper and read from time to time at press conferences. The devastating effects of the climate crisis are already here, and we can only expect the worst. Imagine the immediate and long-term damage these dirty multinationals will continue to cause with those extra no-green-strings-attached billions of euros. The European post-covid economic recovery project is a historic opportunity to bring lasting and meaningful change for the planet and all its inhabitants. While progress is made, we cannot let the ECB ruin all these efforts. »

More than 100 000 citizens signed the SumOfUs, 350.org and Reclaim Finance petition calling for the ECB to stop fueling climate change. French and German elected representatives asked the same thing. European citizens also called out the ECB’s President and governors on social media and by email.

Nick Bryer, campaigner at 350.org, said: By recklessly buying billions in fossil fuel bonds the bank is propping up the single biggest obstacle to tackling the climate crisis – the fossil fuel industry. This is increasingly looking like a recovery package for polluters, not people, despite the growing support for a truly green and just recovery.”

Press contact:

Reclaim Finance
Paul Schreiber | paul@reclaimfinance.org
Lucie Pinson | lucie@reclaimfinance.org | 0033 6 79 54 37 15

Leyla Larbi | SumOfUs | 0033 7 5096 0130 | leyla@sumofus.org

Mark Raven | 350.org, 0044 20 7097 3819 | mark@350.org