Monday, January 25, 2021 – The ECB just announced the creation of a “climate center” aiming to study the integration of climate issues into all of the ECB’s operations and the investment of part of its own funds in green bonds. Reclaim Finance welcomes the fact that the ECB and its President Christine Lagarde once again recognized the urgent need for central banks to tackle climate change. However, we stress again that these announcements do not improve the environmental impact of the bank’s operations. Worse still, they risk being used as an excuse to delay climate action for several years. The climate emergency calls for immediate action to stop the expansion of fossil fuels and Reclaim Finance is calling on central bankers to decarbonize monetary policy straightaway.
The two announcements made this morning are accompanied by a new speech by President Christine Lagarde, in which she recognizes the importance of integrating a climate into all of the central bank’s operations.
“Despite looking good on the surface, are the ECB’s announcements actually a diversionary tactic? The ECB is once again trying to use the purchase of green bonds to distract from its support for fossil fuels. At the same time, whilst having potential, the creation of the “climate center” should not be used as an excuse for postponing the adoption of genuine climate measures until 2024, as recent comments from the Governor of the Banque de France suggest (1)” comments Paul Schreiber, Campaigner at Reclaim Finance.
He continues: “As it plans to pour €5 trillion into the markets between 2020-2022 (2), the ECB cannot continue to ignore this physical reality: financing renewable energy only reduces greenhouse gas emissions if it replaces fossil fuels! Immdiately targeting these polluting energy sources is a necessary step to give credibility to the ECB’s announcements.”
The ECB’s announcement regarding the purchase of green bonds only concerns its own funds, and not monetary policy, which constitutes the bulk of the bank’s activities and whose impacts far exceed the one of the allocation of its own funds. In particular, the ECB plans to pour €5 trillion into the markets between 2020-2022 to respond to Covid-19.
The United Nations’ Production Gap Report 2020 indicates that it is necessary to reduce the production of fossil fuels by 6% per year from 2020 until 2030 (3). Therefore, targeting fossil fuels now is a necessary step to give credibility to the ECB’s climate announcements, as recognized by the Banque de France, which drastically reduced its investments in fossil fuels last week and committed to oppose any new fossil fuel project (4). However, according to a study by Reclaim Finance, the ECB’s asset repurchases alone, which are scheduled to reach €1.97 trillion over 2020-2022, support 38 companies in the sector, which are planning at least 67 new oil and gas projects (5).
In addition, the press release from the ECB indicates that “the structure will be reviewed after three years, with the aim at the end of it to incorporate climate issues into the operations of the ECB”. The French governor recently spoke of “three to five years “ to implement climate measures. This suggests an extreme sluggishness in the face of the climate emergency. Achieving the 1.5 ° C target means reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 7.6% per year by 2030, which can only be achieved with a halt in the expansion of fossil fuels (6).
Angus Satow, communication officer at Reclaim Finance | email@example.com
Paul Schreiber, campaigner at Reclaim Finance | firstname.lastname@example.org