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Europe to take up climate investment mantle

Head of the European Investment Bank said it's the EU that will counter the "climate skeptics."

By Daniel J. Graeber
Europe to take up climate investment mantle
EU Bank President Werner Hoyer says it's Europe that will lead the world in investments targeting the impacts of climate change. Photo courtesy of the European Investment Bank

Jan. 24 (UPI) -- European lenders will be among the world leaders in supporting efforts to address the impact of climate change in an era of naysayers, the EIB president said.

The World Meteorological Organization reported last week that global average temperatures in 2016 hit records highs for the third consecutive year. Werner Hoyer, the president of the European Investment Bank, told delegates in Brussels the lender was doing its part by hitting its lending targets for climate action every year since 2010.

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"Over the next five years we're determined to deliver $100 billion of climate-action finance, the largest contribution to climate action of any single multilateral institution," he said.

His speech comes during the first full week in office for U.S. President Donald Trump, who said from the campaign trail he'd pull his country out of the Paris climate deal. In a broad statement on energy policy, the White House said the president is committed to reducing regulatory burdens related to climate action.

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Many of Trump's picks to lead his administration are from the oil and gas industry. Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, picked to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, has raised challenges to the notion that climate change is a genuine phenomenon.

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Last week, Chinese President Xi Jinping called on leaders at the World Economic Forum to stand firm on their commitments to the Paris climate agreement. Xi last year joined U.S. President Barack Obama in coordinating around the landmark deal.

Without a direct reference to President Trump, Hoyer said it was incumbent on the European community to take the lead on climate issues.

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"With the change in the world order last weekend, we Europeans must lead the free world against the climate skeptics," he said.

Of the total loans distributed by the EIB last year, about a quarter went toward climate investments. Hoyer's comments followed the publication of a column in China's official Xinhua News Agency which said the United States may be wasting an economic opportunity with its dramatic shift away from the low-carbon debate.

On the British decision to leave the European Union, meanwhile, Hoyer said the EU still faces its own challenges in attractive the right investments.

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"We are so used to talking about the EU internal market that we end up thinking it is actually there, perfect and complete," he said. "Well -- it isn't. The EU is still far from being a harmonious, coherent, barrier-free, investment-friendly place."

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