The European Union’s finance arm said lending to climate projects fell 12 percent to 18 billion euros ($23 billion) in 2011 and it’s up to member states to decide how to respond to recent calls for the lender to expand business.
“I can hear many voices calling on us to expand the level of our operations at this difficult time for nearly every member of the EU,” Werner Hoyer, the head of the European Investment Bank, said today in an e-mailed statement.
The EIB helps finance projects such as offshore wind farms, contributing to an EU target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by a fifth in 2020 compared with 1990 levels. The 2011 lending, accounting for about a third of total EIB loans, compares with a record 20.5 billion euros in the previous 12 months.
The bank had “no choice but to gradually reduce” loans to protect its ability to borrow and lend on favorable terms at its current capitalization level, Hoyer told EU finance ministers in Brussels today. It was up to the bank’s shareholders, the 27 member states of the EU, to decide how to “make best use” of the EIB if it’s to increase lending in the region, he said.
The bank also reduced loan volumes after “extraordinary signature activity” in 2009 and 2010 as it contributed to the European Economic Recovery Plan, Hoyer said.
“The EIB’s commitment to support investment for climate action projects within overall lending for different sectors remains strong,” Richard Willis, a bank spokesman, said today by e-mail. “This rose to represent 30 percent of total lending in 2011. However, as overall lending levels decreased there was a slight reduction in absolute lending for such projects.”
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