Fos­sil fu­els win bil­lions in pub­lic money af­ter Paris cli­mate deal, an­gry cam­paign­ers claim

The Guardian Australia - - World News - Damian Car­ring­ton En­vi­ron­ment ed­i­tor

Bil­lions of dol­lars of pub­lic money was sunk in new fos­sil fuel projects by the world’s ma­jor de­vel­op­ment banks in the year af­ter the Paris cli­mate change deal was agreed, ac­cord­ing to cam­paign­ers who are call­ing for the banks to halt their fi­nanc­ing of coal, oil and gas.

The new anal­y­sis also re­veals that some of the tax­pay­ers’ money given to coal and gas projects was counted as “cli­mate” fi­nance.

Fund­ing for fos­sil fuel projects from the six main in­ter­na­tional de­vel­op­ment banks to­talled at least $5bn in 2016, ac­cord­ing to a re­port from re­searchers at Oil Change In­ter­na­tional (OCI).

In par­tic­u­lar, OCI es­ti­mate the fund­ing for ex­plo­ration for new oil and gas more than dou­bled in 2016, to $2.1bn. Fund­ing for clean en­ergy also grew by more than a third, to $11.4bn.

A sec­ond re­port from an­a­lysts at E3G sug­gests that in re­cent years the World Bank and Euro­pean Bank for De­vel­op­ment and Re­con­struc­tion (EBRD) have given sim­i­lar lev­els of fund­ing to fos­sil fu­els as to cli­mate­friendly en­ergy projects.

“De­spite the Paris Agree­ment be­ing reached, mul­ti­lat­eral de­vel­op­ment banks that say all the right things on cli­mate are still fi­nanc­ing bil­lions of dol­lars in oil, gas, and coal projects,” said Alex Doukas at Oil Change In­ter­na­tional. “They are us­ing rel­a­tively scarce pub­lic re­sources that need to be used as strate­gi­cally as pos­si­ble if we have a hope of meet­ing the agree­ment’s aims. If they re­ally want to help lift peo­ple out of poverty, tax­payer­funded banks can no longer fi­nance cli­mate de­struc­tion. They must stop fund­ing fos­sil fu­els.”

He­lena Wright at E3G said: “De­vel­op­ment banks must do more to green their in­vest­ments. As a first step, the banks should com­mit to end­ing fi­nance for fos­sil fuel ex­plo­ration. Ob­vi­ously ex­plo­ration for new re­sources is not in line with the Paris goals – we have got enough fos­sil fu­els al­ready to go over 2C of warm­ing.”

Sci­en­tists showed in 2015 that to keep un­der the in­ter­na­tion­ally

agreed 2C warm­ing limit, then most ex­ist­ing fos­sil fuel re­serves need to stay in the ground. In July, the G20 na­tions were ac­cused of hypocrisy for talk­ing tough on global warm­ing but pro­vid­ing four times more pub­lic fi­nance for fos­sil fu­els than for re­new­ables.

Wright also found that mil­lions of dol­lars given by the EBRD for a coal port in Morocco were counted as cli­mate fi­nance on the grounds the port con­trib­uted to adap­ta­tion to cli­mate change. In another ex­am­ple, mil­lions of dol­lars given by the EBRD for an off­shore gas ex­plo­ration project in Azer­bai­jan were also counted as cli­mate fi­nance on the ba­sis that it re­duced emis­sions com­pared to base­line. “It seems a bit ridicu­lous,” she said.

How­ever, a spokesman for the EBRD said it strongly dis­agreed with the anal­y­sis in the new re­ports and the way in which the projects were cat­e­gorised. He said the EBRD spent 2.7 times more on en­ergy-re­lated cli­mate projects than on fos­sil fu­els and that the analy­ses had not in­cluded lend­ing that went to projects via part­ner banks.

A World Bank spokesman also dis­puted the analy­ses and em­pha­sised the bank’s clean in­vest­ments: “Over the last five years, the World Bank Group has in­vested more than $11bn in re­new­able en­ergy and $4.5bn in en­ergy ef­fi­ciency. We are now the largest mul­ti­lat­eral provider of fi­nance for re­new­able en­ergy and en­ergy ef­fi­ciency projects in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries.”

Both of the new re­ports an­a­lysed the lend­ing by the World Bank, EBRD, the African De­vel­op­ment Bank, Asian De­vel­op­ment Bank, Euro­pean In­vest­ment Bank and the In­ter-Amer­i­can De­vel­op­ment Bank.

The OCI re­port es­ti­mated sig­nif­i­cant rises in fos­sil fuel fund­ing in 2016 by the Asian De­vel­op­ment Bank, where it leapt five­fold, and at the World Bank. The E3G re­port judged the In­ter-Amer­i­can De­vel­op­ment Bank as the green­est, giv­ing over five times more to cli­mate­friendly en­ergy projects be­tween 2013 and 2015 than to fos­sil fuel schemes.

Yong­ping Zhai, en­ergy advisor at the Asian De­vel­op­ment Bank, said: “ADB will con­tinue to ex­pand cli­mate fi­nance, while still pro­vid­ing ac­cess to en­ergy in the most cost ef­fec­tive man­ner to sup­port progress for de­vel­op­ing coun­tries. ADB’s fi­nanc­ing to fos­sil fuel in 2016 was lim­ited to nat­u­ral gas, which is an im­por­tant tran­si­tion fuel, [with] lesser car­bon.”

Mil­lions went to an off­shore gas ex­plo­ration project in Azer­bai­jan, money that was counted as cli­mate fi­nance on the ba­sis it re­duced emis­sions com­pared to base­line. Pho­to­graph: El­nur Amik­ishiyev/Alamy

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