Today, along with activists from Rise for Climate Belgium, Grands-Parents pour le Climat/Grootouders voorj het klimaat, FairFin and Attac Bruxelles, we took to the streets to demand that the Bank of Belgium takes concrete measures to support the energy transition and help finance building renovations to improve energy efficiency. This coordinated action, the first of its kind to target national central banks, took place only a few days after the latest raising of European Central Bank (ECB) interest rates and a week before the ECB Forum on Central Banking.
The same action took place simultaneously in Paris and Lisbon to highlight the Eurosystem central banks’ responsibility to protect us from extreme temperatures and to contribute to the climate fight.
Building renovation is essential to meet EU climate goals and protect European households from extreme weather and energy price surges. According to the Unlock campaign, buildings are responsible for 40% of EU energy consumption and 36% of carbon emissions. Energy efficient building improvements will also help fight inflation as the excess energy consumption in poorly insulated buildings inflates energy bills.
The ECB has so far refused to implement dual rates to ensure cheap loans for building renovation in terms of energy efficiency. Without such a mechanism, decisions to increase interest rates render investments in building renovations more expensive, potentially putting the ECB at odds with EU climate goals.
For this reason we are calling on all EU institutions, including national central banks, to address this and make renovation affordable with dual rates at the ECB level. This call is supported by a petition signed by 35,000 Europeans to unlock funds for building renovation.
The ECB needs to do more for the environment — commitments and promises are not enough! It’s time for the ECB to take a proactive approach and adopt differentiated lower rates for particular types of investments such as energy efficient home renovations. Imported fossil energy has already exacerbated inflationary pressure in the past years. With differentiated rates, the ECB can help households reduce their consumption of fossil energy and thus reduce the economy’s exposure to energy price shocks, which will be key to ensuring price stability in the long run. The Unlock campaign has shown that there is popular support behind these demands: it’s time to act for the sake of people and the planet!