EU lending arm considers ending airport expansion support: draft

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Investment Bank (EIB) is considering ending support for airport expansions and conventionally-fuelled aircraft, according to a draft plan seen by Reuters.

FILE PHOTO: A man walks in front of Budapest Airport's terminal 2B, Hungary, August 15, 2018. REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo

The move by the European Union’s lending arm is part of a push to use its financial might to support the EU’s emissions-cutting goals, and bring the bank’s activities in line with the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The EIB last year rewrote its energy lending rules to stop funding unabated fossil fuel power plants from the end of 2021, with certain exemptions. Now it is turning to other sectors, in a “climate roadmap” that will impose tighter criteria on projects seeking support from the end of 2022.

“Support will be withdrawn from airport capacity expansion and conventionally‐fuelled aircraft,” according to a draft of the roadmap, which is dated Oct. 22 and set to be discussed by EIB directors at a meeting on Nov. 11.

The draft says the bank will instead focus on improving existing airport capacity by investing in safety and decarbonisation.

The EIB said it does not comment on leaked documents. An EIB source confirmed the draft was submitted to its board of directors for consideration.

By 2025, the EIB wants over half of its lending activity to support green projects, to help leverage 1 trillion euros ($1.18 trillion) of investment this decade.

The new rules aim to ensure that all EIB activities - even those not directly targeting climate change - do no significant harm to the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Greenpeace acknowledged the move on airports, but said the draft rules could enable support for other polluting investments and efforts to address the carbon footprint of farming and road transport did not go far enough.

“There’s no excuse for the EU’s self-proclaimed climate bank to allow funding for fossil fuels, motorway expansion, and industrial farming,” Greenpeace finance campaigner Piotr Wojcik said in a statement.

The draft rules would block funding for farming activities that expand into carbon-storing or high-biodiversity habitats. Road infrastructure investments will be assessed against criteria including a shadow carbon cost, which will climb to €250 per tonne of CO2 by 2030.

Reporting by Kate Abnett;Editing by Elaine Hardcastle