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Europeans Must Lead The Free World on Climate Action: EU Bank Chief

European Investment Bank president Werner Hoyer. Photo: European Commission
European Investment Bank president Werner Hoyer. Photo: European Commission

The president of the European Union’s multi-billion investment bank has called on Europeans to unite and lead the charge against climate change.

The fact that last year was the hottest year on record should “remind us that climate change needs urgent action,” Werner Hoyer said earlier this week (24 January) at a press conference in Brussels.

“We Europeans must lead the free world against the climate sceptics”

“We Europeans must lead the free world against the climate sceptics,” said Hoyer, pointing to the “change in the world order last weekend,” a not so subtle reference to the change of power in the White House.

Hoyer said that over the next five years, the European Investment Bank (EIB) is “determined to deliver 100 billion dollars of climate action finance,” which he called the largest contribution to climate action by any single multilateral institution.

Crucial Leadership

In a statement, the EIB also confirmed it had exceeded expectations by investing almost €20 billion last year to help mitigate and adapt to climate change. This represents more than a quarter of the bank’s total lending in 2016.

“This kind of leadership on climate issues is crucial right now,” Hoyer said, before highlighting how China is also calling on all countries to stick to the Paris climate accord.

“We first set a climate-action target for our lending in 2010. We hit our targets every year since then. We will continue to do so,” says  Hoyer.

The EIB will also stand by a pledge made with other international development banks to “work together to raise the private finance that will be needed to combat global warming,” he said.

Green Bonds

But private investment is crucial, Hoyer stressed, “Public funding alone will never be enough to tackle climate change.” He went on to highlight what “the world’s largest multilateral public bank” does best, “catalyse private investment for climate action and sustainable development.”

The EIB self-finances by issuing bonds on the international capital markets, and points out that ten years after pioneering the first Green Bonds, the EU bank remains the largest issuer, “with over 15 billion euros raised for climate projects since 2007.”

One of the countries where the EU also offers support is Mexico, where Mexico City hopes to issue its first green bond assisted by Climate-KIC, the EU’s public-private climate innovation partnership.

Climate-KIC is testing out new ways to define and structure green bonds and finance green projects through its Low Carbon City Lab.

A More United Continent

In support of the Paris agreement, the European Investment Bank previously committed to increase its lending to climate change related projects in developing countries to 35 per cent of its total lending by 2020.

“We make our continent more united, and there could be no more important role right now”

But the EU bank, owned by the European Union’s member states, primarily invests in European businesses and projects, creating links between people, businesses and economies in the process according to Hoyer.

“We make our continent more united, and there could be no more important role right now,” he concluded.

Discover how students, businesses and the public sector around Europe connect through the EU’s climate innovation network.

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