Luxembourgh Times

Activists protest greenwashing at EIB in Luxembourg

Greenpeace organises protest outside world's largest multilateral lender accusing it of engaging in climate-damaging investments

Greenpeace action staged at the European Investment Bank on Wednesday in Luxembourg to protest greenwashing

Greenpeace action staged at the European Investment Bank on Wednesday in Luxembourg to protest greenwashing © Photo credit: Guy Jallay

(Adds EIB reaction)

Greenpeace activists in Luxembourg staged a protest outside the European Investment Bank, the world's largest multilateral lender, accusing the financial institution of engaging in greenwashing on Wednesday, as it pitches to become the EU's climate lender.

The activists pulled up a banner at the offices of the bank in Kirchberg in Luxembourg, changing the name of the lender to "European Greenwashing Bank" as police officers stood by, arguing that the bank hides climate-damaging investments behind green rhetoric.

"The bank still finances climate-damaging activities such as fossil-gas projects [...] and those related to existing gas infrastructure", Greenpeace said in a press release on Wednesday.

The bank said it plays a "key role in helping to support the very substantial climate investments required across Europe and around the world" in an email on Wednesday.

"In 2020, the EIB invested €24.2 billion in climate action, representing 37% of all EIB financing last year," an EIB spokesperson wrote. "The European Investment Bank is the EU climate bank."

But the EIB has failed to blacklist major polluters like fossil fuel utilities, Greenpeace said in its statement, pointing to PGE in Poland, "the biggest greenhouse gas emitter in the country".

"It still funds motorway expansion, for example the A46 in Germany, which is destroying the centuries-old Dannenröder forest," Greenpeace said. "The bank also supports industrial farming and is failing to audit around a third of all its financing that is channelled by financial intermediaries."

Under President Werner Hoyer and governors such as Luxembourg’s minister of finance Pierre Gramegna, "the EIB must finally require its clients to have credible decarbonisation plans in place and implement an assessment mechanism to validate the effectiveness of such plans", Greenpeace Luxembourg said.

The bank recently set up a new branch for projects in developing countries, starting from an office in Nairobi, after an EU race to officially be crowned a development bank fell through. There is also an ongoing debate on whether it should take on a further role as the union's climate lender of choice, a project French President Emmanuel Macron has notably pushed.

By 2030, the bank - which is owned by the 27 members of the European Union - aims to have unlocked €1 trillion in investments for climate-friendly projects, it said in January this year. But whilst that roadmap is ambitious, it is not enough to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement, Counter Balance, a pressure group co-funded by the European Commission, said.

Luxembourg failed to support a decision to stop the EIB from funding fossil fuel projects, becoming one of six countries to abstain when the motion was adopted two years ago. The new policy still gained enough support to be passed, and the EIB is due to stop financing fossil fuel energy projects from December this year.