The letter poses questions regarding the environmental and social appraisal for the Kolubara lignite mine project and the due diligence carried out by the EBRD before the project's approval by the EBRD:
How has the EBRD assessed the corporate behaviour of the Kolubara and EPS companies towards communities affected by the extension of mining operations?
How has the EBRD defined the project's influence in the Kolubara basin?
Can EBRD staff provide studies or numbers justifying Serbia's need for further growth of coal production?
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and German development Bank KfW are considering supporting the development of a new field in the lignite open pit mine in the Kolubara mining complex in Serbia. Interestingly, the investment is categorised as "Environmental Improvement" on the EBRD's website. But no matter how efficient future processing is, investments into perpetuating lignite production - the dirtiest of fossil fuels - instead of clean electricity generation alternatives rather resembles re-arranging the deck-chairs on the Titanic than serious 'environmental improvement'.
Bankwatch and the Movement to Defend Khimki Forest wrote to the Global Compact on 28th March 2011 regarding Vinci's non-compliance with its Global Compact Commitments in relation to the first section of the Moscow – St. Petersburg motorway project. Our letter subsequently formed the basis of an enquiry to Vinci by the Business and Human Rights and Human Resource Centre, to which Vinci responded on 26th April 2011. Having carefully reviewed Vinci's response, we still believe that the company is not in compliance with its Global Compact commitments.
The revised Public Information Policy (PIP) of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) adopts only few of the NGOs' proposals submitted during the first stage of commenting, therefore missing the opportunity to improve the draft. We insist that the detailed comments submitted in January should be further considered by the EBRD before drafting its final PIP. These comments concentrate on several priority issues, in addition to those submitted in January.
The current draft of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development's public information policy lacks several provisions and innovations which should be considered the latest best practice in information disclosure in multilateral development banks.
As the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development celebrates twenty years of market and democracy promotion in central and eastern Europe, Bankwatch evaluates the institution's activities since its inception and concludes the bank needs to move swiftly and genuinely towards prioritizing social justice and lowering carbon intensity of economies, if it wants to bring real benefits to the region.
On the occasion of the EBRD's 20th anniversary, Bankwatch Mail is complemented by a range of personal reflections from people both within and beyond central and eastern Europe, people who have worked directly on issues related to the EBRD, or who have studied the bank's impacts.
In 2010 the EBRD approved a senior loan of up to RUB 650 million (around EUR 16 million) for the New Forwarding Company (Novaya perevozochnaya kompaniya - NPK), the main operating subsidiary of Globaltrans Investment Plc, the top private railway transportation company in Russia.
When trying to find out who owns GlobalTrans Investment, the trail stops in the Bahamas. What does this case mean for the EBRD's policy on offshore jurisdictions and transparency more generally?
The Turkish company Georgian Urban Energy (GUE) has requested a USD 44 million EBRD loan for the Paravani HPP, an 87 MW plant using a 14 km derivation tunnel in order to divert water from the Paravani river to the Mtkvari river. Bankwatch member group Green Alternative has deep concerns regarding the project's potential negative impacts as well as its overall justification.
The Polish energy market is dominated by coal, but two thirds of the installed coal capacity is older than 30 years. The EBRD could play a crucial role in the restructuring of this market by providing financial assistance to energy efficiency projects and renewable energy and at the same time refraining from further fossil fuel investments.
Update: The EBRD confirmed during later meetings that it will not finance any coal project in Poland.
In 2010, the EBRD approved a EUR 100 million loan for the Sostanj lignite power plant unit 6 (TES 6) project with a further EUR 100 million syndicated to commercial banks. A recent report on the management of the project has important implications for the EBRD's involvement and raises questions about the project appraisal process that led the EBRD to approve the project.
In November 2010 the EBRD, together with the European Union, announced its involvement in the EUR 1.2 billion Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) safety upgrade project for Ukraine. While safety upgrades at first appear a positive initiative, this project makes sense only in the context of NPP lifetime extensions, otherwise there is no reason to finance costly upgrades for facilities that will anyway close in a couple of years. And though the project promoter clearly links these safety upgrades with lifetime extensions, the EBRD is reticent to do so.
The EBRD is and has been involved in a number of high voltage electricity transmission lines in Ukraine that eventually would lay the technical groundwork to export nuclear and coal-based electricity to the EU.
In the Ukrainian electricity transmission field, the EBRD should focus its efforts on utilising the massive potential to increase the reliability and efficiency of Ukraine’s energy system through the modernisation of existing grid, especially low-voltage local grid below 110kV where power losses now are two times higher than average in the EU.
The oil and gas-fired thermo-power plant in Vlora, Albania - in a tourism-dependent city and only 100 metres from the protected Narta lagoon - was financed by the EBRD, the European Investment Bank and the World Bank.
After a slew of problems, including lack of proper public consultation, the plant is not actually working - two years after it was supposed to have been completed – and it is increasingly doubtful whether it will start to produce electricity any time soon.