The EIB’s role is to help achieve the European Union’s long-term objectives through the provision of financing. As a result, the number one priority to which it devotes the bulk of its funding is now to limit global warming and adapt to the effects of climate change.

2023 was Earth’s hottest year on record. Almost halfway through this make-or-break decade, we need to redouble our efforts if we are to keep the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5° Celsius within reach. We are at a crucial turning point for global climate action.

With a pressing need comes an opportunity

The green transition requires enormous investment in Europe. But it also provides an opportunity to boost the economy and strengthen EU leadership in the fight against climate change. We need to keep global warming to a minimum, while also developing new innovative industries, boosting economic competitiveness, strengthening our strategic autonomy and ensuring a just green transition for all communities and regions in Europe.

Various studies by the European Commission and the International Energy Agency estimate that in Europe alone, between €360 billion and €620 billion will need to be mobilised each year to achieve the objectives of the Green Deal. This greening of investments comes amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the resulting global energy and food crises, which have made it all the more urgent to decarbonise our energy and transport systems. This is where the European Union’s REPowerEU plan comes in, enabling us to further accelerate our investments in renewable energy.

The EU climate bank

As the EU climate bank, the EIB committed a record total of €49 billion in green investment in 2023 (twice as much as in 2019) and is on track to achieve its goal of supporting €1 trillion in green finance this decade. Green investments now account for the majority of projects financed, including renewable energy, energy efficiency, clean transport and innovation. On top of this huge increase in green investment, we have also pledged to align all of our financing with the goals of the Paris Agreement, and are already honouring this pledge.

In the area of innovation, more support is needed for advanced technology that can reduce carbon emissions in Europe and be scaled up globally. For example, we are supporting Europe’s largest solar panel production facility in Italy and financing a new factory in Sweden that will produce millions of tonnes of green steel each year using green hydrogen. These projects not only address the climate issue, but also the European Union’s strategic autonomy.

France top beneficiary of EIB green investment

France was the largest beneficiary of EIB Group green finance in 2023. Of the approximately €12 billion of investment financed in 2023, almost €7 billion (64%) went to projects with a strong climate component. These projects help to increase employment and have a very tangible impact on people’s lives in the local areas affected.

For example, in 2023, the EIB supported two gigafactories for electric vehicle batteries in Douai and Dunkirk in the Hauts-de-France region. Sorégies, a leading group of local energy companies in France based near Poitiers, was able to finance its investments in renewable energy and distribution network upgrades with the Bank’s support. The EIB also helped to finance the automotive supplier Valeo’s first green bond issue, and supported Engie’s investments in new heating and cooling networks.

In the area of carbon-free transport, which receives the most EIB financing in France, the Bank has invested in urban transport in four cities (including Nantes), and in line 15 of the Grand Paris Express. It has also helped to finance rail transport in four regions. The green transition also affects the education and housing sectors, with investments in the construction and energy renovation of schools and social housing. Greener and more sustainable infrastructure such as this illustrates just how EU funding can help to improve the lives of people and passengers.

The vital role of businesses

Businesses are key to implementing the transition to a new low-carbon growth model. One of the EIB’s priorities is to actively support small and medium enterprises as they make this switch by providing intermediated financing through its banking partners, which totalled almost €3 billion in France last year. Our large-scale annual investment survey of businesses revealed that 89% of companies are taking action to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and that 61% of the companies polled believe that climate events have an impact on their business. But only 36% have taken steps to strengthen their resilience to climate risks.

Doing more to adapt to the existing effects of climate change

Investments in climate change adaptation need to be brought to the forefront of public and private sector discussions. If such investments are not made, or if they don’t go far enough, the cost of inaction will be much higher in the long run, affecting people’s quality of life and business competitiveness in Europe. For the EIB, this means more investment in the water, wastewater and agricultural sectors to safeguard our food security and sovereignty. In 2023, we signed a record number of loans for climate adaptation, and will continue to step up our efforts in this area in the coming years.