July 17, 2020

Activists call on Central Banks and G20 governments to use public money for a #JustRecovery

17 July, Europe — This week climate activists around the world are mobilising to demand a Just Recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic ahead of two important meetings that will be attended by the wealthiest governments and finance decision-makers.

The heads of EU-states will meet at a Special European Council on July 17-18. At the same time, Finance Ministers and Central Bankers representing the G20 countries will meet on July 18. Both sets of meetings will cover sweeping measures to tackle the economic recession caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

  • In the UK: activists projected video footage onto the Bank of England and the Treasury building in London calling for the government and financial decision-makers to Build Back Better.
  • In Germany: activists from groups including Ende Gelände Frankfurt and Fridays for Future Frankfurt blockaded the headquarters of the European Central Bank in Frankfurt to demand they stop propping up the fossil fuel industry.
  • In Belgium: later today activists representing the EU states will deliver their demands for a green and just recovery to the EU leaders taking part in the Special European Council.
  • Around the world: activists created a human chain in Bangladesh, dropped banners across South Africa, and projected demands on public buildings in Brazil calling for a Just Recovery.
  • More than 20 thousand people signed a petition calling for central bankers and G20 countries to spend public money on a Just Recovery.

Nick Bryer, Europe campaigner at 350.org said: “Central banks are pumping vast sums of money into our economies right now, but without having taken any steps to exclude fossil fuel corporations and high-carbon sectors. That means they’re trying to address one crisis while simultaneously fuelling another. There have been some promising statements made by leading central bankers, insisting that they do care about their impact on the climate, but we need to see actions. Otherwise it is simply hypocrisy. They need to stop buying up corporate bonds from climate-wrecking fossil fuel companies, and instead channel funds towards a more equitable and green economy.”

This week trillions of euros are being put on the table, as the European Union prepares to approve a 750 billion euro Recovery Fund, and G20 countries are each deploying hundreds of billions in public money to soften the blow of the recession.

However, there is a clear risk that decisions made by politicians and central banks will lead to massive bailouts for polluting corporations, thus making the climate crisis worse.. In response, activists are demanding that the financial measures to tackle Covid-19 support people not polluters.

Christine Lagarde, President of the European Central Bank, has committed to examine how the institution can meet green objectives through its €2.8 trillion asset purchasing scheme. But, as part of the Covid-19 recovery plan the European Central Bank has already purchased bonds from at least 38 fossil fuel companies. Up to 132 billion euros of the bank’s corporate asset purchases could go to the most polluting companies such as airlines and utilities.

Andrew Bailey, Governor of the Bank of England, has said that the Bank will consider taking climate risk into consideration when buying corporate bonds, but only after the Covid-19 crisis abates. In the UK, nearly 20% of £18.8 billion in initial bailout finance released by the Bank of England went to highly polluting oil and gas firms, airlines and the automotive industry.

Many leaders of the richest nations have spoken out publicly about the need for a Just Recovery. But new research confirms that throughout the pandemic G20 countries have already handed over or earmarked over 130 billion euros for fossil fuels and other polluting industries.

People around the world are demanding that the heads of central banks and the wealthiest governments move beyond empty words to deliver a Just Recovery.

They must do this by supporting the creation of millions of decent and clean jobs by investing in renewable energy and the decarbonization of our transport, building and agriculture sectors; cancelling the sovereign debt of financially poorer countries; rebuilding and re-thinking social services, healthcare and education to dismantle racial injustice and put an end to social exclusion.


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Media contact

Mark Raven, Europe communications at 350.org

[email protected] +442070973819