This year’s United Nations conference on climate change is bringing together global leaders in the South African city of Durban from late November onwards. As one of the largest climate action lenders, the Bank works to help limit greenhouse gas emissions, as well as to improve climate resilience in Europe and beyond.

The EIB is attending as an observer in Durban in order to present its activities and contribute to the climate finance debate. One of the major topics being discussed is the creation of a sustainable international system to finance climate action. Together with other international financing institutions (IFIs) the EIB is closely involved in the process of setting up a Green Climate Fund to finance both climate change mitigation and adaptation initiatives in developing countries in the future. While today developed countries are the main emitters of greenhouse gases, in the future most emissions will come from developing countries – especially fast-growing emerging economies. It is therefore only natural that climate action and development is also one of the key themes of the many events that the Bank is taking part in.

Climate and development in the spotlight

The effects of climate change are often most felt in developing countries, translating into floods, droughts and heat waves. These countries often face particularly difficult challenges both in addressing their existing climate risks and adapting to new ones. Climate action is a high-level objective in the EIB’s operations outside the EU and the Bank has recently been equipped with an additional EUR 2bn to support the fight against climate change across all regions. This includes projects in developing countries like the Mediterranean Solar Plan, which aims to provide the Southern Mediterranean region with 20 GW of additional renewable energy capacity (particularly solar and wind) by 2020. Another major area of funding for the Bank outside the EU is water. Providing access to safe drinking water and sanitation are two axes of EIB lending. The transfer of technology and exchange of know-how is another important element of the EIB’s cooperation with developing countries. To date it has already signed major framework loans to help finance key climate investments in China, India, Brazil and more recently South Africa, to name but a few.

Among the world’s largest lenders for climate action

The EIB’s support for renewable energies and energy efficiency has grown tremendously in the past five years. Climate action accounts for around a third of its business (more than EUR 20bn in 2010) – also expected to be the case in 2011. However, climate considerations are already being factored into all of its operations, for instance by making use of the best available technology. Moreover, over the last three years (2009-2011), the Bank has engaged in a pilot initiative to measure the carbon footprint of EIB projects. Only this year the EIB helped to launch the European Energy Efficiency Fund with an initial volume of EUR 265m, which is expected to grow to an estimated EUR 800m over the next three to five years. While helping to limit greenhouse gas emissions, the EIB also supports investments in climate research, development and innovation (RDI), such as new technologies to clean up the atmosphere from existing CO². The Bank and the European Commission have joined forces in the NER 300 programme to boost carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies. Finally, to improve the climate resilience of infrastructure, the EIB has financed a series of projects in particular in the water, transport and housing sectors.