Among the list of corporations favoured by the ECB are some from the dirtiest industries on the planet. The bank has not revealed how much has been spent on the bonds of individual firms. But oil and gas companies, such as Shell, Total and Repsol, appear to have received particular support, along with car makers and highway firms. Shell bonds have, for example, been bought eleven times since the inception of the programme. And while carbon industry bond purchases make up as much as 68 per cent of some national central bank investments within the scheme, there are very few renewable energy investments visible across the lists of bond purchases.
In other words, only six months after European countries signed the Paris Agreement, the ECB began to pour cheap money into the pockets of huge companies which can already comfortably access capital markets, and whose businesses are - by their nature - destructive to the climate and therefore the lives and livelihoods of people worldwide.
Whatever the ECB’s logic in selecting these bonds, such a programme cannot be justified in the context of the ongoing climate emergency. All institutions of the European Union and all of its member states have a responsibility to fight climate change. Investing billions of euros in carbon-intensive industries clearly works against the goal of halting disastrous climate change.
There is little evidence to show that the ongoing corporate purchases by the ECB do anything other than provide cheaper money for corporations. Apparently, the money simply ends up as additional income for a few wealthy shareholders, while job-creating small and medium-sized companies are being sidelined.
Properly designed economic policies, in contrast, could help to support socially and environmentally-beneficial projects, which the traditional banking sector has been unwilling to invest in.
It is time to change that.
As a first step, we demand transparency. It is unacceptable that the ECB is not prepared to reveal its purchases to the public. The public has a right to know which companies benefit from the ECB programme and, in particular, how much money gets spent on bonds of individual companies.
Secondly, we demand a change of course. Stop funding fossil fuels. There needs to be full alignment of the EU’s bond purchasing strategy and its social and environmental objectives, which include meeting the Paris climate targets.
Thirdly, we are asking decision makers in Europe to develop an alternative: we need a strategy under democratic control, that steers investments towards job-creating industries and sets us on the right course to combat the climate crisis.
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Alternativa antimilitarista de Las Palmas (Spain)
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ATTAC Deutschland (Germany)
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Les jours heureux (France)
Miljöförbundet Jordens Vänner (Sweden)
Mouvement Écologique (Luxembourg)
New Economics Foundation (UK)
NOAH - Friends of the Earth Denmark (Denmark)
Notre affaire à tous (France)
Parroquia do Cristo da Victoria (Spain)
Plataforma Cantabria por lo Público y Contra los Recortes (Spain)
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transform! Europe (EU)
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ZERO – Association for the Sustainability of the Earth System (Portugal)