On October 29, Positive Money Europe together with Fairfin placed a car wrecked by the recent floods in front of the National Bank of Belgium (NBB), serving as a staunch reminder that the NBB is bankrolling some of the worst climate offenders. Thereby, Positive Money Europe joins a global movement of organizations calling for a moratorium on funding companies that undermine climate objectives.
This past summer Europe experienced a series of floods and fires, not to mention its hottest summer in recorded history. Belgium and Germany witnessed firsthand the havoc caused by climate change, killing more than 200 (and costing insurance companies an estimated €2-3 billion). Worse yet, Europe’s monetary system is complicit in this tragedy, first and foremost the ECB and the National Bank of Belgium that continue to provide liquidity to the economy’s worst polluters.
Through their insistence on market neutrality, the European Central Bank and the National Bank of Belgium, have created an avenue for fossil fuel producing companies and other polluters to tap into the NBB’s bond purchasing programme. The Corporate Sector Purchase Programme (CSPP), as it is known seeks to bolster the economy through private-sector bond purchases, not a bad thing per se in light of a pandemic stricken economy. Studies have shown, however, that the main beneficiaries of this programme are climate offenders like Shell, ArcelorMittal, Eni, and the oilfield producing company Schlumberger.
Contrary to other central banks in the Eurozone, the NBB, headed by Mr. Wunsch, is widely seen as one of the greatest laggards when it comes to climate ambition. By invoking the market neutrality principle, they are not only exonerating themselves from fueling the climate crisis, they are also dishonoring the ECB’s secondary mandate, which states that the ECB is obligated to support the general economic policies of the EU. This support is not confined to the ECB’s raison d’être, to ensure price stability, but to ensure, according to EU law, sustainable development and the improvement of the quality of the environment in the Union. As such the compliance with the secondary objective is not optional, but a legal obligation.
The preamble of Positive Money Europe’s public action on October 29 , 2021 was a joint letter, signed by 15 Belgian organisations, sent to Governor Wunsch, demanding clarification of the NBB’s economic recovery plan and its alignment with the Paris Agreement. This was largely to no avail. In April 2021, as a consequence, ClientEarth brought legal proceedings before the Belgian courts, asking them to order the National Bank to cease the practice of bond purchases under the CSPP that violate the EU’s environmental and human rights stipulations.
The next hearing before the President of the French-speaking Court of First Instance in Brussels is scheduled for Monday, November 15. Positive Money Europe will follow the hearing closely and ensure that citizens are aware of the outcome.
If you want to know more about the ECB’s secondary mandate we invite you to join our webinar on Monday, November 15, 4-5 pm CET.
Together with Belgian partners, Positive Money Europe intends to further increase the pressure on the NBB and the ECB by means of public action.