The ECB buys assets from 10 companies active in coal for a total installed power of about 66 000 MW, more than all French nuclear reactors. Among them are 3 companies highly exposed to coal and/or in the process of developing new coal capacity.
For example, Enel, which was recently included by the Norwegian Pension Fund in the list of companies under observation – the first step before being excluded from all investments by one of the biggest pension fund worldwide, beneficiates of the QE.
We can also find Fortum among the beneficiaries of the ECB’s asset purchases. Fortum is the majority shareholder of Uniper which is also listed on the list of companies under observation by the Norwegian Pension Fund because of its coal-related activities. Uniper is developing a new coal power plant in Germany and is suing the Netherlands to oppose their decision to exit coal by 2030.
Europe should exit coal by 2030, but only one of the 10 coal companies that beneficiate of the QE is expected to get out of the sector by then. None of these 10 has adopted an asset-based coal exit plan. Like Engie, most of them only close coal plants that fall under national exit plans. They continue to run coal plants in other countries, especially outside Europe, with no plans to close most of them by Paris aligned deadlines. Moreover, they often chose to sell or convert – and not close – their assets.
The lack of coal exclusion by the ECB is as unacceptable as puzzling. The European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development as well as more than 120 private financial institutions have adopted policies to restrict their support to the coal sector and a growing number of them are aligning their financial services with a coal exit trajectory.