European countries back weakened ECA fossil fuel financing pledge

(Financial Management Magazine, Durham, 4 November 2022) As noted in our October What's New, ten European countries had agreed to spell out this year how they will limit export finance support for overseas fossil fuel projects. But they shelved a draft pledge to explicitly end it after pushback from Italy. The final statement was weaker than a previous draft seen by Reuters. At the UN COP26 climate summit in November 2021, 39 countries and financial institutions, including the Netherlands, signed the Glasgow Statement on International Public Support for the Clean Energy Transition, committing signatories to end their direct international public financing for fossil fuels by the end of 2022, except in exceptional circumstances, and fully prioritize their public finance for clean energy transition. If all signatories followed through on their pledges with integrity, this could directly shift US$28 billion a year from fossil fuels to clean energy and help shift even larger sums of public and private money away from investments in climate-harming fossil fuels. International and Dutch NGOs now argue that the new policy published by the Dutch Government on restricting finance for fossil fuels has such significant loopholes, that it essentially means the Netherlands has reneged on its promise. The Dutch government said it intends to stop giving companies and banks credit insurance for exports in the fossil fuel sector as of Jan. 1, following through on a pledge made at the COP-26 climate conference in Glasgow. When the pledge was announced in 2021, the Cabinet said it did so knowing it would put Dutch exporters at a competitive disadvantage to exporters in countries that do still offer such insurance and the Finance Ministry said the Netherlands might reconsider the policy if other countries fail to adhere to their COP-26 pledges. According to Statistics Netherlands (CBS), petroleum and petroleum products made up 9.3% of Dutch exports in 2021, with a trade value of 54.7 billion euros. Around 20 countries including Germany, the United States, Britain and Canada made similar commitments, but only a few including France have so far implemented them into policy. On the other hand, Australia chose not to sign the Glasgow Statement at a public event held at Cop27 in Sharm el-Sheikh.