While the European Central Bank (ECB) Governing Council meet again today to discuss their response to the Covid-19 crisis, and as the central bank goes through its “strategy review” (1), Europeans overwhelmingly expressed their support to reforms pushing the ECB to stop supporting polluters (2) and take concrete action to address the climate emergency.
In a new NGO-led survey completed by more than 24,000 Europeans 81% of respondents (3) said that climate, environmental and social issues should be the highest priority of the central bank. Almost 100% of respondents want the ECB to pay more attention to these topics.
The survey was designed to allow Europeans to easily give their state of mind on key ECB strategy review topics.
“This survey gave tens of thousands of people an opportunity to express their views on the ECB’s strategy review as the bank hides behind its own complex and inaccessible consultation process (4) that only serves to delay real action to tackle the climate crisis. The results demonstrate that Europeans want their central bank to act for, not against, climate justice and to help deliver a fairer socio-economic system as we recover from the impacts of Covid-19.” said Nick Bryer, Campaigner at 350.org.
79% of respondents consider that they are not sufficiently informed of the ECB’s actions. Almost all of them support more transparency through both the adoption of clear environmental, ethical and social criteria and the disclosure of detailed information, including climate and environmental information.
“People don’t want to go back to “normal”, if “normal” means for the ECB to keep denying the climate emergency and strengthening inequalities running deep in our societies. The ECB can no longer brush aside Europeans’ environmental and social concerns, and has to work in a transparent and truly inclusive way. The ECB must set clear environmental, ethical, and social criteria, starting by excluding fossil fuel companies – and companies involved in the production of deadly weapons and human rights violations – from its asset purchases. We want policies that will benefit the people and our planet.” underlined Leyla Larbi, SumOfUs Senior Campaigner.
More than 138,000 people (5) are calling on the ECB to immediately end its support to polluters having signed a petition drafted by SumOfUs, 350.org and Reclaim Finance.
“Climate and people won’t be protected with words. The ECB’s confession that its asset purchases must be reconsidered in face of the climate emergency (6) does not matter if the ECB keeps ignoring the peoples’ demand to keep fossil fuels in the ground and avoid taking action until the end of its strategy review. If we want to prevent €1.7 trillion in asset purchases (7) from supporting polluters in 2020-2021, including major fossil fuel companies like Shell and Total, we need action now.” said Paul Schreiber, Campaigner at Reclaim Finance.
Paul Schreiber, Campaigner, Reclaim Finance, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mark Raven, European Communications, 350.org, email@example.com
Leyla Larbi, Senior Campaigner, SumOfUs, firstname.lastname@example.org
(1) The ECB indicated that it is re-examining its asset purchase programs during its strategy review. The strategy review will not end before mid-2021 and will likely be further delayed because of the current crisis. The ECB already decided that the public consultation initially scheduled to close at the end of August will stay open till the end of October. In any case, it will not have any concrete effect before 2022.
(2) Asset purchases benefit 38 fossil fuel companies, including 10 coal companies. They support 24 gas companies that operate numerous gas infrastructure all over the world and plan 62 new gas projects. See : https://reclaimfinance.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Report-Quantitative-easing-the-ECBs-dirty-secret-RF.pdf and https://reclaimfinance.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/RF-QE-and-climate-2-The-ECB-is-fueling-the-gas-frenzy.pdf
(3) More than 24,000 people responded to a survey designed and conducted by Reclaim Finance, SumOfUs and 350.org on the basis of the ECB strategy review public consultation. Comparatively, EU consultations usually attract a low number of participants, often a hundred or so and rarely more than a thousand.
(5) The petition was launched in May 2020, following the publication of Reclaim Finance’s report on the ECB’s asset purchases supporting fossil fuel companies: https://reclaimfinance.org/site/en/the-ecbs-dirty-quantitative-easing/
(6) See Christine Lagarde’s interview in the Financial Times and on French television. The ECB recently updated its Q&A page on CSPP, it now indicates that: “the ECB shares the view that an awareness of environmental issues, together with ethical and socially responsible behaviour, are important for society and actively supports several initiatives in this context beyond the purchase of green bonds under the CSPP.”
(7) Before the Covid-19 crisis, the ECB was planning to buy 240 billion in assets in 2020. Amid the crisis, the ECB first decided to purchase an additional 120 billion in assets, before creating a dedicated program (Pandemic Emergency Purchase Program – PEPP) allowing it – through two decisions – to purchase 1350 billion euros in assets in 2020-2021.