The climate justice movement in Europe has seen a resurgence in international coordination, solidarity and networking across borders since 2015. Many of the fossil fuel companies pushing new infrastructure projects operate in multiple countries, and crucially, are often financed by the same collection of private and public banks. The financial system is a key enabler in the supply chain of new fossil fuel projects – and many private banks also have retail branches in towns and cities all around Europe.
Despite the global commitment to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees under the 2015 Paris Agreement, these institutions continue to finance new coal and gas projects that will lock us into decades of future greenhouse gas emissions.
The Defund Fossil Fuels report highlights the banks behind eight key fossil fuel battles in Europe. Many of the financial institutions attempt to obscure their role in the climate crisis by sponsoring UN negotiations and other green finance events. Yet beneath their public relations hype about new sustainability commitments, the majority of the world’s leading commercial banks continue to funnel eye-watering sums into new fossil fuel projects.
We looked at the financial data for companies involved in eight key fossil fuel projects across Europe.
The Gas Projects
The proposed Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) from Greece, Albania to Italy is part of the “Southern Gas Corridor” — a 3,500km chain of proposed mega-pipelines that would pump 10 billion cubic metres of gas from Azerbaijan to Europe every year. This pipeline would destroy Europe’s climate targets, increase energy dependence on oppressive political regimes and have unacceptable impacts on the communities on its path. In Melendugno, Southern Italy – residents and olive farmers have been resisting the pipeline. Companies researched: BP, SOCAR, SNAM, Enagas, Fluxys, AXPO
Over 50 years of gas drilling by Shell and Exxon Mobil has caused many earthquakes in the local area damaging people’s homes and local buildings. Thousands of people have been demonstrating for an end to the gas production. Companies researched: Shell, Exxon Mobil
A proposed new 235km gas pipeline has received ‘Project of Common Interest’ status from the European Union and aims to double the amount of gas that can be piped across the Pyrenees mountains. Companies researched: Enagas, GRTgaz, TIGF (TIGF became Teréga in March 2018)
The proposal by Swedegas for a new Liquefied Natural Gas terminal to import gas would be contradictory to Sweden’s plans to go fossil free. Companies researched: Enagas, Fluxys
Having been banned and pushed back in many European countries, England is one of the last places where the shale gas industry is attempting to frack. Hundreds of community groups have sprung up to actively resist them. Companies researched: Cuadrilla, INEOS, Third Energy, Europa Oil & Gas
The Coal Projects
Despite high levels of air pollution for local communities and the climate impacts of coal, the Polish government remains determined to open new opencast mines and build 8 new coal-fired power units. Companies researched: PGE, Energa, Enea, Kompania Węglowa. (Kompania Weglowa became Polska Grupa Górnicza in May 2016) (PGG).
In Northern Bohemia, campaigners are fighting the expansion of lignite coal mines near the town of Most which feed several power stations. These mines threaten nearby homes as well as producing high levels of pollution when the lignite coal is burned. Companies researched: CEZ
The Rhineland coal area is Europe’s largest CO2 emitter and Germany is the largest producer of lignite coal. Expansion of these huge opencast mines threatens to engulf entire villages and forests. Companies researched: RWE
The Data (Follow the Money)
The table below presents a snapshot in time for the companies behind the 8 fossil fuel projects listed above. Research group Profundo analysed the loans and underwriting for the companies involved as well as the project-specific finance between January 2012 and September 2017. Figures are in millions of $US dollars.