In May 2020, the ECB published its 2019 annual report. In this 126-page document, climate issues are tightly packed in a 4-page box. A quiet spot that should not be surprising as the ECB made a habit of talking about climate without acting to protect it. Elements gathered in the last report reflect this inaction: if all forementioned areas are useful to ease the integration of climate, none does anything to even start it. Hence, the relation between the ECB and climate change mixes a “wait-and-see” attitude and statements of good-will, thus contradicting all European objectives.
According to the ECB, “all authorities must consider the appropriate response to climate change and to related risks in their own area of competence”.
The central bank thinks it fulfills this duty by working on a better understanding and integration of climate related-risks, modeling the economic and financial impacts, participating in international initiatives and starting to adopt a so-called “responsible” investment initiative for its own portfolios.
If all the work detailed by the ECB is useful, none of it has concrete impacts. It does not reduce GHG emissions or protect the planet. Even the area of climate-related risks, that focuses the attention of both supervisors and financial actors, is not close to produce any result and mainly aims at a better financial understanding of climate change.
Moreover, the ECB makes sure to keep its purchases of polluting assets quiet. For all climate concerns, it refers us to the strategic review. But this process won’t have any effect before 2022.
So far, the only concrete measures taken by the ECB apply to “daily operations”, that’s to say the practices of the bank and its employees (energy efficiency, management…). These things should be expected from any institution or company. Using low energy light bulb seems a little light to compensate for the ECB’s support to 38 fossil fuel companies.