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Bankwatch Mail 63

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Published after the conclusion of the UN climate negotiations in Paris, Issue 63 of Bankwatch Mail presents ample evidence of how the EBRD and the EIB continue to be firmly tied to fossil fuel financing, in spite of increasing pressure to do more to end support for carbon-intensive sources of energy.

And even when multilateral development banks say they’re doing ‘clean energy’ some of the effects are proving to be catastrophic – as the impacts of IFI-backed hydropower projects across the Balkans show.

We also take a look at the new kid on the IFI block, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and consider among other things how its ambition to be ‘lean, clean, and green’ sits with apparent plans for the new bank to help fire up a lot of coal power plants across Asia.


  1. Lynxed in: EBRD still can’t say no to destructive Macedonian dam
    • The latest blow to the highly controversial 68 megawatt Boškov Most hydropower plant, that has attracted EUR 65 million in financing from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), was dealt in early December by the Standing Committee of the Bern Convention, the European wildlife treaty.
  2. Nuclear plant shenanigans intensify in Ukraine
    • An ageing nuclear unit in the South Ukraine power plant has become the latest to have its expiry date rewritten by Ukrainian authorities, despite a number of pending safety issues and concerns over compliance with international treaties.
  3. Reckless dam financing rampant in the Balkans
    • A new Bankwatch report has found that loans totalling EUR 818 million from international public ‘development’ banks have supported 75 hydropower projects in the Balkans, including 30 which directly affect protected areas such as national parks, Natura 2000 sites and Ramsar sites.
  4. New Beijing-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank struggles to convince on environment and sustainability issues
    • The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the China-led financial institution, has emerged as a multilateral development bank with the backing of 57 members in record time. Jin Liqun, president designate of the new financial institution set up to provide financing for infrastructure projects in south east Asia and countries along the Silk Road route in South Asia, Central Asia, the Caucasus and the periphery of Europe, has declared that the AIIB will be a ‘lean, clean, and green’ institution which upholds the highest standards of 21st century governance. Early doubts, though, hang over these aspirations.
  5. Greening the EBRD's portfolio – or greenwashing it
    • No matter how you look at it, the so-called sustainable energy approach being taken – and loudly trumpeted – by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is simply at odds with both climate science and the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals.
  6. 9 reasons why the EU’s bank is no climate leader
    • In the run-up to, during and now, with a global deal reached, after the Paris climate summit, the world’s largest public lender, the European Investment Bank (EIB), is positioning itself as a climate pioneer. But is the bank really fit for this role? Can the EIB make a break from its history of financing fossil fuels and polluting forms of transportation after decades of cosy relations with the biggest culprits?
  7. Public development banks failing 2 degree test, heavy fossil fuel financing persists
    • The MDB Climate Change Scorecard, published by Bank Information Center and Sierra Club during COP21, highlights how none of the world’s biggest multi-lateral development banks is on track to help keep the world below 2 degrees warming, and reveals how the seven banks in question – including the World Bank, the EIB and the EBRD – are continuing to support fossil fuel projects in developing countries.
  8. "Shaping the age of gas" - how the EU is locking in a destructive path
    • As efforts to realise a mega gas pipeline along the Southern Gas Corridor intensify, Re:Common’s Elena Gerebizza explains how democratic rights are at stake – and are being trampled on.
  9. EU-backed fossil fuels binge needs to end in 'neighbourhood' countries
    • Bankwatch has been taking a look at EU financing for the energy sector in 16 European Neighbourhood countries between 2007 and 2014. Alarmingly, our research has uncovered that out of at least EUR 9 billion provided by the EU to energy projects in the ENP region during the period under assessment, more than EUR 4.2 billion in financing went to hydrocarbons in contrast to the EUR 1.5 billion awarded to low carbon sources of energy and energy efficiency projects.
  10. Exporting toxic pollution from Europe to Namibia
    • The case of the Tsumeb smelter in Namibia demonstrates how European pollution is being exported to the Global South with the indirect help of public development money.
  11. Foul play: development banks condone top Ukrainian poultry producer’s abuses
    • A closer look at Europe’s recent investments in Ukraine’s agriculture sector shows that the failure to apply high transparency standards and social safeguards poses not only business risks but also undermines Ukraine’s democratisation process.
  12. Polish authorities on collision course with EU institutions over S7 expressway
    • A barely eight kilometre long section of an express road in central Poland is becoming another battlefield in the long-running conflict between Polish road authorities on one side and European biodiversity protection laws, and environmental NGOs trying to uphold them, on the other. Except this time, it’s not just about the law – it’s also about the money.
  13. The newly proposed World Bank Safeguards - A paper tiger? (not included in the pdf version of Bankwatch Mail 63)
    • The social and environmental policies of the World Bank – commonly referred to as the ‘Safeguards’ – have been under review since 2012. In July 2015, as part of this review, the World Bank, released a second draft of the Safeguards for consultation and public comments.