EU Central Bank should step up its climate act, French MEP says

The ECB creates €240 billion each year but so far, only 11% has gone into the real economy. So why not put some of those funds into the European Investment Bank (EIB), Larrouturou suggests. [© European Union 2019 - Source : EP]

In an interview with EURACTIV France, socialist MEP Pierre Larrouturou deplored the meagre €7.5 billion proposed in the European Commission’s Just Transition Fund. To finance EU climate action, he suggests some of the ECB’s “easy money” could fuel the European Investment Bank (EIB) instead of going into private banks.

French Social Democrat MEP Pierre Larrouturou has just been appointed general rapporteur for the 2021 budget, which crystallises tensions between member states and the European Parliament.

The European Commission has just presented its financing plan for the Just Transition Fund, at €7.5 billion. What do you think about it?

One billion per year over seven years, or €7.5 billion, is seriously insufficient. We are heading for disaster if we leave it at that. But what I find interesting is that the European Commission has, for the first time, identified the financing needs.

If we look at the texts published on the Green Deal, we see that the executive estimates the financing needs for the ecological transition at €782 billion. Now that is an honest view of reality.

Question marks raised over scale of EU's new climate fund

The European Commission finally lifted the lid on its long-awaited just transition plans on Tuesday (14 January) but doubts have already been raised over the amount of funding on offer for the next decade compared to the bloc’s Green Deal ambitions.

After the disappointing outcome of the COP25 climate summit in Madrid, is Europe living up to its climate ambitions?

I believe that things can change if we get down to work quickly so that we have a proposal as early as next June, with serious financing for climate policy.

At least Trump is consistent, he says that he has nothing to do with the climate, he does nothing. For Europe, there will be a real challenge at the next COP in Glasgow, where we expect one or two blocs, such as Europe and China, to make a serious commitment.

The Commission is counting on a leverage effect that would make it possible to devote €100 billion to the climate, is that realistic?

What is urgently needed is energy efficiency.

If we want to halve CO2 in 10 years’ time, we need to insulate hundreds of millions of farms, houses and offices. These are not profitable projects. We need subsidies to insulate social housing, so no, the leverage effect that the EIB (European Investment Bank) may have had in the past will not be the same.

That is why it is absolutely essential to find new resources.

How can we find the necessary money when the UK’s withdrawal from the EU is already jeopardising the European budget for 2021-2027?

The European Investment Bank, which has just announced that it is limiting its investment in fossil fuels, will have to double its green investments, which already amounts to more than €16 billion a year.

And the ECB could invest more in the climate. It creates €240 billion each year and invests €100 billion every month.

If we take stock of the policy of monetary easing, or quantitative easing, we see that of the €2,500 billion created since 2015, only 11% has gone into the real economy. The rest has gone to the financial markets, and stock market indices are climbing exponentially.

So, should the ECB continue to trust the banks, or do we have a little doubt? And if so, why not put some of those funds, not in the private banks, but in the climate bank?

EU bank brokers late-night deal to phase out fossil fuels

The European Investment Bank (EIB) decided on Thursday (14 November) to end financial support for fossil fuels from 2021, after marathon talks ended in a compromise that has been hailed as “a significant victory” for green policies.

The Germans are very sensitive when it comes to the ECB…

We can act without touching the ECB’s statute.

In Germany, Peter Altmeier has found a very interesting solution for financing energy renovation. He has set up a foundation that makes interest-free loans to Germans, which the state guarantees while financing the 2% interest. And because the foundation has been created under private law, it is not included in the calculation of the deficit according to the Maastricht criteria.

Why not do this at the European level?

Are the member states ready to hear about these innovative solutions?

When I raise the subject with ambassadors and ministers, they say: oh yes, it’s interesting!

The issue of financing the climate transition is mobilising people in Europe, from Spain to Poland. Whether it’s a tax on kerosene or on company profits, new resources can be found.

The climate crisis is very severe, and if nothing is done, in two years’ time, those responsible today will be covered in shame.

MEP Larrouturou: ‘Entire S&D group wants guarantees on financing European Green Deal’

Incoming EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen should take an extra month or two to negotiate a coalition agreement with the European Parliament, including a new finance-climate pact to support the energy transition, says Pierre Larrouturou, adding he will not vote for the new Commission without additional climate cash.

[Edited by Frédéric Simon]

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