In the beginning of March, the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development paid out half a billion euros in loans for a new unit at the Sostanj lignite power plant in Slovenia (TES 6).
The reactions I got from fellow environmentalists who had been campaigning against the project expressed a tremendous disappointment over this decision. Not only were the two banks not courageous enough to take one of the numerous flaws of the project and pull out. They also presented their decision with what was perceived as positive spin.
Ignoring the ongoing corruption investigations, the EIB’s press release for instance ends with this wording:
“The new plant will generate up to 30 per cent more electricity with no additional CO2 emissions.”
But “not more” carbon emissions is missing the point, what we need, as international bodies and various experts constantly point out, is fewer emissions. Instead, TES 6 alone will emit about as much carbon by 2050 as Slovenia as a whole would be allowed to emit if it is to reach European climate objectives.
This disappointment and the (justified) fear that the Sostanj lignite power plant may not have been the EBRD and EIB’s last controversial project has led 98 organisations to send an open letter (pdf) to both banks calling on them to never commit to such a misguided loan again. (You can read a quick summary of the letter’s content in Bankwatch’s press release from today.)
At this very moment the EBRD is considering a loan for the Kolubara B lignite plant in Serbia, and has recently published a draft country strategy for its newest member, Kosovo, which features as its centrepiece none other than the planned 600 MW Kosovo C lignite power plant.
With the energy lending of the EIB and the EBRD under review at the moment, this is just the right time to inscribe the lessons from the Sostanj disaster into their institutional memory. Coal should be off the table once and for all, as should any project under investigation for corruption. This applies to the Western Balkans as much as to any other region.
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