With its financial clout, the EIB is able to commit substantial resources to the environment and to combating climate change. This year more than 25% of its total lending has been granted to further the objectives of the European Union in this area. Below is a brief summary of the situation.
Getting the planet to change its way of life by producing renewable energy and consuming it without waste is a huge challenge. The EIB has a three-pronged strategy. Firstly, it supports science by lending to enterprises that develop renewable energy research programmes – solar, water, wind, geothermal and biomass.
Secondly, it promotes the marketing of these new methods. In particular, it has supported the world's first commercial solar tower in Spain, solar roofs in Germany, photovoltaic panels in France, geothermal power plants in Iceland and Kenya and onshore and offshore wind farms in a number of countries worldwide, e.g. Belwind – Belgium’s biggest offshore wind farm. Located in the North Sea, when fully up and running it will be able to supply electricity to some 175 000 homes.
Pre-empting climatic disturbances
Lastly, the EIB helps the countries and regions most threatened by climate change to adapt to these inevitable disturbances, which jeopardise their well-being and sustainable economic growth.
The EIB has lent EUR 166m to enable Jordan, which is under threat of desertification, to build an aqueduct to channel water drawn from a huge source of groundwater under the Disi desert to the Kingdom's capital city, Amman. This freshwater reserve has been formed drop by drop since the Ice Age and contains enough drinking water to supply Amman for around 50 years. The EIB’s key concern, however, has been to support the Hashemite Kingdom in overhauling its water management and distribution strategy in order to reduce agricultural irrigation requirements, rethink its tariff policy and plug leaks in the distribution network.
Cleaner cities and seas
This preventive approach is also implemented in Europe where the EIB helps cities, which consume 70% of all energy and emit the same percentage of greenhouse gases, to reduce their emissions by building tramway and metro networks that are more eco-friendly than cars. The EIB also supports urban renewal programmes that adopt an integrated and sustainable approach to cities and has since 2008 been signed up to the Covenant of Mayors, a European Commission initiative in which 1 800 cities worldwide have pledged to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by more than 20% by 2020.
Against this backdrop, the EIB has lent EUR 250m to improve the energy efficiency of public buildings in the Province of Barcelona, where 130 municipalities have signed up to the Covenant of Mayors. Barcelona will install photovoltaic panels on the roofs of administrative buildings and schools, change inefficient boilers and air conditioning units and replace public lighting with low consumption lamps.
As regards the sea, the EIB has teamed up with the United Nations to clean up the Mediterranean by identifying 44 wastewater treatment projects on both shores. Further north, it has also granted loans to the city of St Petersburg and the Baltic States to treat waste discharged into the Baltic, the most polluted sea in Europe, which has been the focus of a European Commission strategy since 2009.