Protesters from across Europe descended on the headquarters of the European Investment Bank (EIB) last week to demand an immediate end to the public bank’s financial support of fossil fuel projects around the world.
This was the first time that the EIB’s head office has ever been directly targeted in this way.
The action is taking place just one week before EU Finance Ministers - the EIB’s Board of Governors - will be holding meetings to review the bank’s energy lending policies.
Dozens of protesters representing at least twelve countries blocked the bank’s entrance. The Executive Director of the EIB was invited to join participants as they listened to the testimonies of representatives from communities around the world who are fighting against new fossil fuel projects funded by the EIB.
Participants used art, songs and chants to demand an immediate end to financial support for fossil fuel companies and projects.
The bank is facing mounting pressure to update their lending policies in line with the Paris Agreement on climate change as public awareness of the scale and urgency of the crisis continues to grow.
The Governors of the EIB are publicly elected finance ministers of EU member states and, as such, have a responsibility to act in accordance with national and international climate targets. Public pressure to ensure that they do this has increased considerably in recent months as a result of the school strikes and other climate movements that have been sweeping Europe.
A number of protests have targeted the financial sector in particular, highlighting the role of both public and private finance in propping up the fossil fuel industry and driving climate breakdown. More such actions are expected in the coming months.
Camille, one of the protesters, said: “People across Europe are rising up to demand that our money will no longer be going to support the expansion of fossil fuel projects around the world. Communities are already feeling the impacts of climate breakdown.
"We need to change course - and fast - but despite this, money keeps flowing to new and existing fossil fuel projects.
“Young people across more than 165 countries are striking in numbers we have never seen before to demand bold action to keep fossil fuels in the ground and stop climate breakdown.
"We all need to take action that is commensurate to the threat. That means going after the fossil fuel industry, and its political and financial backers”.
Marianne Brooker is The Ecologist's content editor. This article is based on a press release from 350.org.
Image: Forge Mind Archimedia, Flickr.