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With another public action, colleagues in Moscow are today bringing to a close a week that has seen the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development having to listen to a lot of uncomfortable truths.
by Pippa Gallop, cross-posted from the Bankwatch blog
During this week’s EBRD consultation meetings on its new energy sector strategy it is becoming increasingly clear that the bank’s draft document can hardly be called a real strategy for it is lacking in solid analysis on what climate change means for investments in its region of operations and how the bank should react to this.
Climate change means that global emissions have to be cut by 50-70 percent by 2050 and that up to 80 percent of declared fossil fuel reserves have to stay in the ground. Yet, EBRD representatives at Wednesday’s consultation in Belgrade revealed a worrying lack of projections, scenarios, assumptions about greenhouse gas emissions reductions by the countries. Similarly there are no assurances in the draft that the bank will help EU accession countries to meet EU decarbonisation policies, and no analysis of the danger of fossil fuel investments becoming stranded assets.
In summary, instead of being guided by a real strategy, the EBRD is set to continue financing everything on a project by project basis – which in turn often means “if it’s bankable, it’s fine”. And that means coal, oil, and (shale) gas as well.
While EBRD representatives at the consultations have tried to play down the bank’s involvement in coal projects, the new draft policy would still allow controversial projects like the already-approved Sostanj 6 in Slovenia to be repeated, and makes no attempt to limit the bank’s support for coal mining projects.
However, there is new hope for increasing pressure on the bank at international level is coming from a growing number of countries announcing that they will work together to limit public coal financing, which follows the EIB and World Bank’s recent virtual withdrawals from coal lending. At the same time also civil society in the bank’s countries of operation is demonstrating the need for the EBRD to stop financing fossil fuels, starting with coal – on Monday in Istanbul, on Wednesday in Belgrade and today in Moscow (see below).
There are in fact so many compelling arguments against coal that it is hard to fathom why a European public institution would allow itself to finance the dirtiest of all fossil fuels for another five years, potentially pumping hundreds of millions of euros into projects that will pollute the air and endanger our health for several decades and crowd out financing for much-needed demand-side energy efficiency projects.
That civil society organisations in the countries where the EBRD operates don’t agree with this approach was demonstrated again today in Moscow, where activists, dressed up in miners’ helmets and T-shirts with slogans like “coal free EBRD” and “coal kills”, handed over a box symbolising the 16 725 people who had signed the petition for a coal free EBRD.
The action provoked a long discussion and the EBRD’s staff had to admit that environmental concerns were dominating the consultation meeting.
We will see how the bank now takes on board these concerns, but until the energy sector strategy has been finalised, we will continue to put pressure on the EBRD to take climate change seriously, and get out of fossil fuels, starting with coal.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development received a little surprise visit this week from 16 000 voices against coal.
by Fidanka Bacheva-McGrath, cross-posted from the Bankwatch blog
During this week’s consultation meetings in Istanbul, Belgrade and Moscow, the EBRD is discussing its new energy lending strategy with NGOs from its countries of operation. As a contribution to the debate and to amplify the resounding call for an end to fossil fuel subsidies, environmental activists are bringing more than 16 000 people with them – in spirit at least.
These 16 725 signatories of two petitions by 350.org and Oil Change International have called on the EBRD to stop financing coal power plants. The demand to end coal subsidies and for a #coalfreeEBRD is increasing. They also confirm that after the US government, the World Bank and the European Investment Bank have strictly limited support for coal, all eyes are now on the EBRD.
A change of course is needed at the EBRD in order to follow the World Bank and the European Investment Bank away from coal. Between 2006-2011, the EBRD spent 10 percent of its energy portfolio on coal, compared to just 11 percent for renewables (excluding large hydro (3%)). But the draft text of its new strategy (pdf) – the basis for discussion during this week’s meetings – proposes weak criteria that would only slightly reduce coal investments, while opening the door to investments in oil and gas, including shale (pdf).
During the first consultation meeting on Monday, Turkish NGOs complained that the draft strategy would allow for financing 50 coal plants in Turkey alone. EBRD representatives committed to check the language of the draft and remained on the defensive. During today’s second meeting in Belgrade, campaigners demonstrated with a banner reminding the bank of the health impacts of this dirty fossil fuel. They then passed the petition to the EBRD’s country director for Serbia Matteo Patrone.
Comments on the draft energy strategy can be submitted until September 30. After that, decision-makers from shareholding countries will have to agree on crucial improvements to the strategy. It remains to be seen if this week’s consultations will have a real impact on the final outcomes of the policy and whether the bank’s shareholders are willing to listen to people who speak up for the environment, public health and the climate.
Lessons from the European Investment Bank’s energy policy review show that public pressure can help tighten restrictions for coal. Until the final document has been adopted by the EBRD’s board of directors, we need to remind the bank that we no longer accept public money being poured into projects that pollute our air, contaminate our water, and endanger our climate. There is no sustainable alternative other than a #coalfreeEBRD.
Here are some suggested tweets:
Adieu aux Mercedes, aux Audi, aux Jaguar. C’est difficile pour un Italien de renoncer à sa voiture, surtout si ce n’est pas lui a payer de sa poche. Seulement dans l’année 2012, l’Administration publique italienne a depensé pour son parc automobile 1.050 millions d’euro. C’est beaucoup, mais c’est quand même moins qu’en 2011 (-12%).
Mais c’est encore trop, selon le Président du Conseil Enrico Letta, qui a décidé d’interdir soit les nouvaux achats, soit les nouvelles locations.
Les grands commis Italiens seront-ils capables de rénoncer définitivement à la voiture officielle?
Aux administrations publiques il est maintenant interdit d’acheter ou bien de louer pour une année entière de nouvelles voitures. Cela vaut aussi pour les autorités indépendentes (y comprise l’autorité pour la Bourse).
En plus, les administrations devront rester au dessous du 80% de la limite établie l’année dernière: il s’agit, par exemple, des dépenses pour l’achat, l’entretien, l’essence et la location, mais aussi pour les salaires des chauffeurs.
Toute dépense doive être communiquée au Département de l’administration publique de la Présidence du conseil de ministres, qui réalise le recensement des voitures possédées par les ministères, les régions, le provinces, par les universités et cetera.
Le recensement finalisé à la réduction des flottes officielles a été inauguré en 2010 par l’ancient ministre de la Fonction publique, Renato Brunetta (pendant le dernier gouvernement Berlusconi) et a été continué par le ministre Filippo Patroni Griffi pendant le gouvernement technique de Mario Monti. La majorité présidée par Enrico Letta a décidé de suivre cette direction.
Néanmoins, les administrations sont encouragées à abandonner les véhicules, à faire du car sharing ou à prendre l’autobus pour se balader d’un bureau à l’autre.
Autrefois les voitures officielles représentaient pour les dirigeants et pour les hommes politiques Italiens un vrai status symbol. Il y avait aussi ceux qui les utilisaient pour aller voir le match de football. Face à la crise économique, tout a changé et les abus de “la Casta” ont déchaîné l’indignation publique nationale.
Mais il y a aussi des exceptions, comme le nouveau Maire de Rome, Ignazio Marino qu’on peut voir se déplacer exclusivement en vélo entre les rues de la ville éternelle.
In light of the current economic situation, one way the public sector can invest in building energy efficiency is by using European Structural and Cohesion Funds, financial tools set up to implement the regional policies of the European Union (also known as Cohesion Policy).
Structural Funds are made up of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF). Cohesion Funds are used to fund projects in the environment, transport, infrastructure and renewable energy sectors. More than a third of the European Union budget is used for Cohesion Policy.
The current regional policy framework, running from 2007 ‐ 2013 was allocated €350 billion. The Structural and Cohesion Funds offer a good opportunity to bridge the gap between potential and actual energy efficiency investments, as part of the funds is directly dedicated to sustainable energy. The share for energy efficiency and renewable energy represents about €9 billion, of which €4.3 billion is available for New Member States.How do Structural and Cohesion Funds work? At EU level, Structural Funds are centrally managed by the European Commission (DG Regio). The European Commission drafts regulations, called Community Strategic Guidelines, outlining the aims and objectives for the funding period. Member states propose a National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) which outlines the priorities, strategic framework and available budget for the Operational Programmes (OP). EU cohesion policy complements national funding so member states also commit some the National budget to the Operational Programmes.
Managing Authorities , appointed by member states, are responsible for managing the Operational Programmes, informing potential beneficiaries, selecting projects and generally monitoring implementation of the Structural Funds at regional or national level. This interactive map details existing Managing Authorities in all member states. In the current programming period, the budget for the Structural Funds is divided among 355 Operational Programmes.
Applications for funding are welcomed from private, public and third sectors who propose projects that deliver on Cohesion policy objectives. Once an applicant identifies a project opportunity, they need to check the eligibility of the project under the existing Operational Programme and contact the Managing Authority (MA) or an Energy Agency to verify that there is still money left in the Operational Programme to finance the project. Usually funding is allocated through a call for proposals, although some MAs have open calls with no specific deadline. The Manual for financing RES and EE projects with Structural and Cohesion Funds provides beneficiaries with clear and simple steps to develop and obtain funding for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.
The contribution of Structural Funds depends on the type of project, on the focus of the Operational Programmes and on the beneficiary. The funds partially finance projects and it is the responsibility of the applicant to get the remaining co-financing, through bank loans, local or regional funds or by private means. In general, EU co-financing rates go from 50% in the more developed regions to 80% in the less developed ones. It can be as low as 20% in Western Europe.Front Runners
Grants for energy efficiency in housing – France
Under the 2007-2013, programming period each French region allocated up to 4% of their Operational Programme to energy efficiency investments and greater use of renewable energy in existing housing. Projects had to target the most energy inefficient buildings and implement the most effective energy-saving actions. Two types of housing were eligible: social housing and run-down co-ownership with social occupation.
For existing buildings, eligible actions had to achieve a gain of at least 80kWh/m2 and reach an energy consumption of less than 150kWh/m 2. The French government used ERDF funding in a grant scheme as an additional financial resource to reach its objectives of retrofitting 800,000 energy inefficient social dwellings.Effective educational infrastructure – Bulgaria
The city of Dobrich in north-eastern Bulgaria refurbished seven municipal buildings, ﬁve schools and two kindergartens. Energy saving measures included energy audits, replacement windows, installation of insulation, roof repairs and reconstruction of public areas. The project was completed through the Regional Development 2007-2013 Operational Programme, with 84% of the total investment costs ﬁnanced through Structural Cohesion funds. Furthermore, cooperation with energy services companies (ESCOs) has been established to leverage on private partner investments for future projects. This project was cited as one of Good Practice examples in the SF Energy Invest project.
“Through the implementation of such successful projects Dobrich municipality demonstrates that we are highly motivated and strive to be a sustainable model of the evolving European community with low energy consumption, reduced CO2 emissions and better protection of the natural environment.” Detelina Nikolova, Mayor of Dobrich MunicipalityThe JESSICA holding fund for domestic retrofits – Lithuania
The JESSICA holding fund can be adopted as an innovative way of using Structural Funds, by moving from grant incentivised mechanisms to revolving funds. A revolving fund allows for the loan amount to be withdrawn, repaid, and redrawn again such that funds remain available for investment in further projects. This type of financing tool facilitates a continuous source of funds and ensures the sustainability of projects.
In June 2009 the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Lithuania, the Ministry of Environment of the Republic of Lithuania and EIB established the JESSICA Holding Fund for the modernisation of apartments. The EIB-managed JESSICA Holding Fund is aimed at energy efficiency projects for multi-apartment housing via the Lithuanian banking sector. Loans are offered to home-owners in multi-apartment buildings with tenant associations acting as representatives, managing the energy efficiency implementation process. €227 million was invested in the Holding Fund is, which consists of ERDF funds (€127 million) and national funding (€100 million). Results from the Vaišvilos g. 9, Plungė project show that over 50 apartments were refubished, with a pre-refurbishment energy rating of band E, which increased to band B after works were completed, achieving energy savings of over 55%.
The prospect of energy savings, improved energy efficiency and increasing the share of renewable energy projects financed by Structural Cohesion Funds is very attractive. Even with the increasing scarcity of public resources, Europe can meet 2020 targets by employing innovative financing mechanisms such as revolving loans, soft loans, guarantees and tax incentives.
This article is the first in a series of ManagEnergy articles on using Structural Cohesion funds to finance energy efficiency in buildings.
Dublin city council, Ireland has licensed car-sharing company GoCar to operate 50 vehicles in 31 pay-and-display locations across the city.
It is estimated that one vehicle in a car-sharing scheme could replace 15 privately owned cars driving in the city centre, lowering traffic and making public transport more efficient. A reduction in traffic will also encourage more people to walk and cycle.
While a shift to sustainable modes of transport will help reduce emissions, the cars perform a similar function—they are generally smaller models with better fuel efficiency.
Dublin’s Lord Mayor, Oisìn Quinn, said that “Dublin City Council wants car clubs operating from on-street parking spaces because we believe they will play an important role in improving traffic management in the city.”
Members using the cars won’t have to worry about paying for parking at pay-and-display places, as this is covered by a fee that = GoCar pays to the city council.
More car sharing information: