The European Union’s banking arm approved a $1.5 billion loan for a massive pipeline project, despite cries from environmentalists who believe the move is hypocritical given the bank’s goal of fighting climate change.
Taxpayer dollars are going to the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), a section of pipe that will complete a more than 2,000-mile-long continent-joining conduit known as the Southern Gas Corridor. It starts in Northern Greece, travels through Albania, run beneath the sea into southern Italy.
“We witnessed today a historical mistake by the EIB,” Xavier Sol, director of Counter Balance, told reporters of the European Investment Bank (EIB)’s gigantic loan. “A self-styled green finance champion which has shown its true colours,” he said. The board’s willingness to prop up the nearly $3.5 billion project could also exacerbate the human rights problem in Turkey, he added.
Sol’s colleagues issued similar complaints. “The European Investment Bank is now shamelessly locking Europe into decades of fossil fuel dependency, even as the window for fossil fuel use is slamming shut,” Colin Roche, extractives campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe, added in a statement.
Activists are also worried about Russia availability to the pipeline. Some of the gas will be extracted through Azerbaijan fields – Azerbaijan withdrew from the global extractive industry watchdog after repeated failures to meet human rights standards. Banks have been undeterred.
“Forming part of the Southern Gas Corridor, Tap is an important project that will increase Europe’s security of supply by diversifying gas routes and contributing to market integration and the energy transition,” a spokeswoman with the commission said in a statement following the decision.
Large swaths of Europe are completely reliant on Russia for energy. President Donald Trump began exporting massive amounts of gas to Europe to interrupt the country’s stranglehold.
The U.S. made its first shipment of LNG to Poland in June. Poland will not renew its contract with Gazprom to import gas once it expires in 2022. The Trump administration’s effort to block a new Russian pipeline from being built is already increasing tensions with Germany.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel backed a $10 billion expansion to a pipeline last year that would bring gas from Siberia to Germany. It’s part of Merkel’s plan to fight global warming by reducing her country’s reliance on coal and nuclear power.
Germany already gets 40 percent of its natural gas from Russia, but other European countries worry that Merkel’s push for more gas will only tighten Putin’s grip over the continent’s energy supplies.
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