November 8, 2021

Laurie van der Burg, Oil Change International (Netherlands / International),
Anna-Lena Rebaud, Les Amis de La Terre (France),
Regine Richter, Urgewald (Germany),

Netherlands joins commitment to end international oil, gas, and coal finance, leaving Germany and France lagging behind

GLASGOW — Last Thursday on November 4, 25 countries and institutions committed to end international public finance for unabated oil, gas, and coal by the end of 2022 at the United Nations climate conference in Scotland (COP26). Today, the Netherlands has confirmed that it will also join the initiative. This brings the annual average of potential public finance shifted out of fossil fuels and into clean energy up to USD 19 billion per year.

The Dutch development bank — FMO — had already signed up to the statement, but not the Dutch government as a whole. Today’s announcement by the Netherlands means that the Dutch export credit agency — Atradius Dutch State Business, which is responsible for about €1,5 billion a year in public support for fossil fuels overseas — will also need to end financing for oil, gas, and coal projects by the end of 2022.

Germany and France have not yet signed up to the statement, but Germany is considering doing so. Speaking to reporters last week about joining, German Environment State Secretary Jochen Flasbarth said, “This is not […] something that we would say, ‘No, we absolutely oppose this.’ Not at all […] There are some other questions that we need to clarify first,” he said. If Germany and France do join the commitment, this would increase the potential amount of annual public finance directly shifted to USD 22 billion, an amount equal to 35% of annual public finance for fossil fuels provided by G20 countries between 2018 and 2020. 

Shifting public finance for energy out of all fossil fuels and into clean energy is an urgent task. The International Energy Agency (IEA) says that to limit global warming to 1.5°C, 2021 needs to mark the end of new investments in not just coal, but also new oil and gas supply. After a wave of commitments to end international coal finance this year, last week’s commitment is the first international political commitment that also addresses public finance for oil and gas. 


Laurie van der Burg, Global Public Finance Campaign Co-Manager at Oil Change International, said:
“This is a welcome step that helps free up significant amounts of public money that can now be invested in a just and clean energy transition. The Netherlands is finally doing what’s logical in a climate emergency and recognizing the need to stop pouring fuel on the fire. Germany and France need to move next.”

Anna-Lena Rebaud, Climate and Just Transition Campaigner at Friends of the Earth France, said:
“Last week at the COP, Emmanuel Macron once more lectured other countries and presented France as a climate leader. Yet this government plans on supporting gas production until 2035, and is still considering supporting TotalEnergies’ huge gas project in the Russian Arctic, Arctic LNG 2! If Macron really is as ambitious as he pretends, why is he not joining an initiative with the potential power to shift huge amounts of public finance towards clean energy? We urge the French government to follow the Netherlands’ example and commit to ending all public support to oil and gas by the end of 2022.”

Regine Richter, Public Bank Campaigns lead at Urgewald, said: 
“It is a disgrace if Germany stays a fossil dinosaur by continuing to support fossil fuels and refusing to join this initiative.”


Notes to Editors:

  • The joint statement was launched at the UK pavilion at 10.30 GMT 4 November 2021. 
  • The countries and the institutions that have signed the joint statement include: Agence Française de Développement (AFD), Albania, Canada, Costa Rica, Denmark, Banco de Desenvolvimento de Minas Gerais (BDMG), The East African Development Bank (EADB), Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, Financierings-Maatschappij voor Ontwikkelingslanden N.V. (FMO), Mali, Marshall Islands, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Moldova, Portugal, Slovenia, South Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, the European Investment Bank, The Gambia, The United Kingdom, The United States and Zambia.
  • The estimate of a direct $15 billion shift is based on annual average international public finance for fossil fuels from the participating countries and institutions from 2016-2020. Data for AFD, Canada, EIB, the United Kingdom and the United States are from Oil Change International’s Shift the Subsidies Database. Data for Denmark, Finland and Sweden is taken directly from government reporting. No data was available for other donor signatories. 
  • Past Last Call” is OCI and Friends of the Earth US’s latest briefing analyzing G20 public finance figures and trends. It shows that between 2018 and 2020 G20 governments and public finance institutions provided at least USD 188 billion in public finance for fossil fuels.
  • In September 2021, 200+ CSOs launched a statement calling on world leaders to end public finance for fossil fuels in 2021 and launch a joint commitment to do so at COP26.
  • In June 2021, 100+ Economists called on the G7 to put an end to not only coal finance, but also oil and gas finance in 2021.
  • A legal opinion by Professor Jorge E Viñuales from the University of Cambridge and Barrister Kate Cook of Matrix Chambers argues that governments and public finance institutions that continue to finance fossil fuel infrastructure are potentially at risk of climate litigation.
  • A comment piece by Harro van Asselt, professor at University of Eastern-Finland Law School and affiliated researcher at Stockholm Environment Institute, and Gita Parihar, an environmental advocate and in-house consultant for environmental NGOs and the UN, and a board member of the Climate Justice Fund, suggests that the ruling in the Shell court case should be a wake-up call for governments to end fossil fuel support.
  • In October in the lead up to COP26, a global group of campaigners organized Climate Debt Justice Days of Action calling on governments and lenders to take decisive action to address the debt problem in the global south and to provide grants, not loans in order to free up resources to enable countries to respond to the climate crisis. 


One Comment

  • The initiative to abandon fossil energy by the Netherlands or any other country in the EU and elsewhere is a great move and should be applauded globally. The EU and other developed countries are living by example, as most of them are at the same time members of the IEA that has spearheaded the ‘no more investment in fossil energy.’ However, the huddle is that most multinational corporations that still operate in developing countries have their headquarters in the OECD countries. Secondly, some obsolete technology such as old cars is still being sold to the developing world from the developed countries. In essence, much as these countries are taking robust measures to stop fossil resources, I think it is high time extra steps are taken towards the operation of these ‘big oils’ companies, especially in the developing countries. As the UN has said, ‘no corner of the globe is immune from the devastating consequences of climate change.’

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