Frankfurt, Germany – Today climate activists are protesting at the Deutsche Bundesbank, accusing it of blocking the European Central Bank’s (ECB) efforts to align with the Paris Agreement. They are staging a mock award ceremony in front of the Euro sculpture at the Willy-Brandt-Platz in Frankfurt. Activists stress that President of the Bundesbank Jens Weidmann is using its vital steering role on the governing council of the ECB to ensure no meaningful climate measures are adopted, thus allowing continued support to fossil fuel corporations like Shell and Total.
Climate activists are presenting the Bundesbank with first prize for “best climate killer” in the category of central banks. An actor, representing the Bundesbank, will take top-spot on a podium under a shower of champagne to receive a smoking trophy.
Rika von Gierke, a spokesperson from the KoalaKollektiv, says: “Regretfully, we are awarding the Deutsche Bundesbank first prize for top climate killer in the category of central banks. The decisive factor was their unprecedented, obstructive role in the Governing Council of the European Central Bank (ECB). Mr Weidmann, president of the Bundesbank, constantly denies any responsibility for taking measures against climate change. He prefers cementing a status quo that favours climate-destroying sectors, like fossil fuels. Apparently, the Bundesbank does not even care for its mandate to ensure price stability, which is not possible with a catastrophic increase in extreme weather events. We demand that the Bundesbank supports effective climate protection measures in ECB’s governing council.”
This protest is part of an ongoing campaign demanding that the ECB stops financing climate chaos and supports a just recovery. A petition in favour of the campaign has garnered more than 169,000 signatures from Europeans. Campaigners and activists are concerned that, contrary to these demands, measures put forward by the Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann risk barring the ongoing ECB strategy review process from delivering real climate measures.
Tonny Nowshin, Germany campaigner at 350.org says: “Jens Weidmann says that the ECB does not have a “magic wand” and cannot set climate objectives. This is a wilful misinterpretation of what 169,000 citizens, civil society and members of the EU Parliament are demanding that the ECB do. The EU already set climate objectives – central banks just have to follow through and cut the flow of finance to fossil fuels. No magic wand is needed here, Mr Weidmann, just the resolve to do your part in tackling the climate crisis.”
Campaigners argue the ECB’s current operations are at odds with recently strengthened European climate objectives and, amid massive ECB Covid-related intervention, support high-carbon companies, thus contributing to the climate crisis (1). In this context, the transparency measures (2) put forward by Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann would not correct the ECB’s carbon bias and would therefore continue to feed the climate crisis and undermine EU climate policies.
Christian Bock, campaigner at SumOfUs, says: “For Jens Weidmann, integrating climate to the ECB’s operations can be achieved by simply asking companies to be a little more transparent. But just because oil and gas majors supported by the ECB – including Shell, and Total – already publish detailed information on their activities, this doesn’t make their business model and fossil fuel investments any less destructive. As it is, Weidmann’s plan will maintain the ECB’s carbon bias and allow continued support to climate killers.”
Paul Schreiber, campaigner at Reclaim Finance, says: “Climate risks are characterized by a radical uncertainty that makes them especially difficult – if not impossible – to precisely evaluate. But one thing is certain: climate change requires immediate action, and the cost of inaction – whether human, social, economic or financial – is overwhelming. Thus, the ECB must at least adopt a precautionary approach to climate risks – i.e contribute to the fight against climate change to mitigate the risks – by aligning on EU climate objectives. Jens Weidmann’s propositions do nothing of the sort. On the contrary, he maintains the illusion that we can have perfect knowledge of climate risks and that, once we do, the market will solve everything.”
- The ECB has never assessed the environmental impact of its asset purchases. Today, both its asset purchases and collateral framework benefit a majority of high-carbon companies, it continues to refuse to introduce any environmental criteria for any part of its response to Covid-19 – which is expected to exceed 5 trillion euros between 2020 and 2022. It will therefore continue to favour polluting companies – including 38 fossil fuel companies –.
- If the President of the Bundesbank – Jens Weidmann – now recognizes that some degree of climate integration is necessary, he only proposes restricting asset purchases and the collateral framework to certain climate-related reporting obligations and using risk ratings that integrate climate-related risks. The Bundesbank’s position is far less ambitious than the ones of the Dutch National Bank (DNB) and the French Central Bank (Banque de France). Several ECB figures have already recognized that climate change is part of the ECB mandate and that its “market neutrality” doctrine should be reviewed. Furthermore, the Bundesbank’s position is at odds with recent changes at the Bank Of England, whose mandate will now explicitly “reflect the importance of environmental sustainability and the transition to net zero” and that will divest its asset purchase program from bonds emitted by big polluters.
At the action and available for interview:
- Rika von Gierke / Spokesperson KoalaKollektiv / [email protected] / +49156-78368004
- Paul Schreiber / Campaigner at Reclaim Finance / [email protected] / +33689020788
- Mark Raven / Communications at 350.org / [email protected] / +447841474125
Notes to editor
- Photos and video from the action will be available here
- Over 165,000 people have signed a petition demanding the ECB cut support for fossil fuels
- Over 30,000 people have signed a petition demanding the Bundesbank cut support for fossil fuels