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Will the EBRD become a coal-free development bank?

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Six months ago I had never heard of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. This week, it’s just about the only thing I am paying attention to.

This bank is one of many multi-lateral development banks, globally. These banks are set up by groups of countries – making these countries their shareholders. The goal is to contribute to progress in developing countries. This also means they finance energy projects to provide power to people. They’re important because, for every dollar they invest in a project, they attract 3-4 times more investment from private investors.

This week there are three public meetings for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). It’s one of the world’s largest development banks and it meets this week to discuss its new policy on lending to energy projects. WWF’s finance experts have been meeting with bank representatives over the duration of this year and lobbying for improvements to the energy strategy.

We’re asking the bank to increase its investments in renewable energy and stop new investments in coal. We are asking this because nature can and should be the foundation of our green development and energy needs.

Earlier this year, we were really encouraged when both the World Bank and the European Investment Bank made moves to stop coal financing. The EBRD could be next. These two banks, plus the EBRD, were in the spotlight when the European Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard called on all three to improve their energy lending policy, saying:

“I am particularly keen to see three international financial institutions – the European Investment Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the World Bank – … take a lead role in eliminating public support for fossil fuels”

The bank meets three times this week in Istanbul, Belgrade and Moscow to discuss its draft energy policy. Over 17,000 people have signed a petition to the EBRD to end its investment in coal, which will be delivered this week. WWF’s global petition to all major investors, including the EBRD, has been signed by more than 40,000 concerned people asking for greater investments in clean, renewable energy.

The question we are asking though, is whether the EBRD will choose to lag behind the World Bank and the European Investment Bank, or become a coal-free development bank. As of their most recent public draft policy, the bank was choosing to fall behind and not commit to stop coal funding. We believe it is absolutely essential for this to change.

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