Bankwatch Mail 55
Bankwatch Mail | 7 March 2013
On the occasion of the Climate Parliament meeting in the European Parliament and with both the EBRD and EIB currently undertaking reviews of their respective energy policies, this issue of Bankwatch Mail takes another close look at the banks’ energy lending, including nuclear and shale gas in Ukraine, coal in Kosovo, the European Commission’s thoughts on the EIB’s energy lending. It also showcases a range of bright ideas from the winners of our EU funds competition, aimed at stimulating new thinking on how future EU budget spending can practically assist local communities and the environment, and more…
- New nuclear risks in Ukraine – EBRD urged not to back lifetime extensions under the guise of ‘safety’
- The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is expected to take a decision this month on whether or not to provide a EUR 300 million loan for a nuclear power plant Safety Upgrade Programme (SUP) in Ukraine. Bankwatch and other environment groups are questioning the logic of the proposed SUP as it will result in some of Ukraine’s old nuclear units continuing to operate for another 20 years.
- The European Investment Bank’s annual press conference in the final week of February proved to be significantly more revealing about the bank’s commitment to fueling climate change than is the norm for the EU bank.
- The renovation of buildings to high energy performance standards has the potential to be the most cost effective investment any European nation can make, given the benefits in terms of job creation, quality of life, economic stimulus and energy security that such investments deliver. For these reasons the Buildings Performance Institute Europe (BPIE) is advocating for the maximum possible allocation of EU funds to the energy renovation of buildings under the recently agreed multi-annual financial framework (MFF) for 2014-2020.
- At a press conference in January, Serbia’s energy minister Zorana Mihajlović spoke out strongly against the Kolubara mining complex, describing it as being “mired in crime and corruption” while also announcing that a thorough investigation is ongoing into corrupt practices by the Kolubara management. Bankwatch believes that this latest confirmed scandal at Kolubara should be giving the EBRD serious pause for reflection as it considers yet another loan to the Serbian electricity company EPS, heavily implicated in these latest revelations.
- “Please be advised that, in this particular transaction, the EBRD and Monsanto were unable to find a satisfactory project structure for financing. Each institution will continue to explore other opportunities in order to provide farmers and distributors with adequate and time-appropriate financing, which we recognize to be one of the key challenges to increase agricultural productivity in the Bank’s region of operations.”
- Bankwatch’s competition devoted to showcasing ideas for EU funds investments that can generate sustainable development for European communities has proved to be a big success – and it should offer inspiration to EU and national level decision-makers as the task of setting operational programmes, the blueprints for how to spend the EUR 960 billion pot for the 2014-2020 budgetary period, now gets underway.
- Kosovo has just celebrated the fifth anniversary of independence. In these five years, Kosovo has achieved membership of certain international financial institutions (IFIs): having already joined the IMF and the World Bank, on December 17 last year Kosovo became the 66th member of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Yet what can Kosovo’s citizens expect from EBRD membership?
- In a landmark ruling in late February, the Kyrgyz parliament voted to renegotiate a contract signed in 2009 with the Canadian mining firm Centerra Gold Inc. for the exploitation of the Kumtor gold mine, near the border with China. The 2009 deal is the most recent form of the contract between the Kyrgyz state and Centerra that has had a presence in the central Asian republic since the late nineties.
- The public consultation on the EIB’s review of its energy policy is well underway now, with the bank’s intention being to have the new policy in place sometime this summer. While not part of the review process as such, following an official request for information Bankwatch has received comments submitted by the Directorate-General for Environment of the European Commission to the EIB as part of ongoing exchanges between the bank and the Commission.
- The industry frenzy surrounding the development of shale gas in Europe is gathering pace, with the announcement in late January of a EUR 400 million deal between Shell and Ukraine to develop the country’s shale gas potential.
- Kurt Bayer, until recently Austria’s executive director at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, has for several years maintained an interesting blog covering issues such as the Eurozone crisis and development finance more generally. Following his departure from the EBRD, might we start seeing a few more revealing insights from Mr Bayer about life – and some of its frustrations – at 1 Exchange Square, London?