16. February 2021

ECB: The climate crisis will not wait!

In front of the European Central Bank today, we called attention to the financing of climate polluters, like Shell and Total, through the ECB’s bond purchases. “Representatives” of these fossil fuel companies melted an iceberg. Thus, they symbolically fueled with flamethrowers – sponsored by ECB – the threat of exceeding the 1.5 degree limit. This was the limit agreed upon by the international community in Paris to limit the effects of the climate crisis.

At the same time, we published an open letter to Christine Lagarde and the ECB Governing Council. Together with numerous NGOs and prominent representatives from science, civil society and culture, we call on the ECB to consistently align its actions with the Paris Climate Agreement. The clock is ticking: The climate crisis is not only leading to melting glaciers. It is already being felt in Europe through heatwaves and floods. Around the world, it is causing humanitarian disasters and species extinctions as a result of droughts and floods.

Even ECB Executive Board member Frank Elderson has now confirmed that a decisive contribution to the fight against the climate crisis is clearly a mandate of the ECB. But instead of decisively turning the wheel, the ECB now wants to green employee pension funds – and set up a working group. These are not the results we need, because the climate crisis will not wait! The ECB has the responsibility – and the means! It must not continue to fuel the climate crisis. It must be the fire extinguisher!


Neither in its bond purchases nor in its refinancing and supervision of the banking sector has the ECB so far taken climate protection targets or climate risks into account. In numerous portfolios, there is evidence of a preference for bonds that are harmful to the climate.

At the same time, the ECB had recently publicly committed itself to addressing the problem of the climate crisis more closely. On the one hand, it is to invest in the Green Bond Fund of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) in order to provide capital for green projects. Second, the ECB is forming the so-called Climate Change Centre to “shape and steer the climate agenda internally and externally.”

The ECB’s first duty is to maintain price stability in the euro area. However, the climate crisis poses the highest inflation risks. Responding to them comprehensively and consistently is therefore clearly a central mandate of the ECB. This is also the opinion of Frank Elderson, ECB Executive Board member.