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15th Dec 2019

EU 'climate bank' won't rule out carbon capture

  • EIB president Werner Hoyer (r): 'We are by far the biggest climate change action financier in the world anywhere' (Photo: Council of the European Union)

The European Investment Bank (EIB) will not rule out funding carbon capture and storage technologies in its bid to become the world's premiere climate bank.

With plans to invest over a trillion euros in the next 10 years on climate projects, the Luxembourg-based institution says it remains open to any investments where emission standards are met, following the Paris Climate Agreement to keep global heating below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

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"I would not exclude developments which make all kinds of resource savings and resource use," EIB's president Werner Hoyer told reporters in Luxembourg on Monday (11 November) when asked if those projects could include carbon capture and storage technologies.

The technology is considered controversial by NGOs like Greenpeace who say it perpetuates the business model of an industry that does not want to transition away from fossil fuels.

Sebastian Mang, climate policy adviser for Greenpeace EU, told EUobserver last month that the EU had already "invested millions if not billions into this technology" - without any results.

The NGO along with some 200 other organisations also last month in a letter demanded political institutions champion fossil-free politics.

The broader move by the EIB towards phasing out its funding of gas, oil and coal projects to help combat climate change was supported last Friday by EU finance ministers.

An initial decision to phase out such projects stalled in October due to disagreements over the classification of natural gas. Countries like Germany and Poland pressed for gas funding to continue.

The EIB's board is now due to discuss the issue of gas again on Thursday.

The EIB has pumped €13.4bn into fossil fuel projects since 2013, with the bulk going to gas infrastructure.

Hoyer said the bank's current share of lending to projects that combat climate change is 28 percent. His aim is to increase it to 50 percent by 2025. All other projects will also have to ensure they do not undermine climate goals, he said.

"We have regions in Europe which are dependent on fossil fuels, not only because of energy security and energy supplies, but also because of jobs and this is where we direct our full attention," he said, in a nod to coal-producing Poland.

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Norway offers EU €140m for carbon capture

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Why doesn't Greece like carbon capture?

Within the Council of Ministers, Greece is one of the biggest opponents of carbon capture and storage - or CCS, arguing that there are many environmental worries thrown up by the experimental technology intended to scrub coal plants emissions of their carbon and store the CO2 underground forever. The EUobserver recently sat down with Kyriakos Psychas, the Greek mission to the EU's counselor on the environment to understand his country's objections.

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