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Greenpeace accuses ECB of helping heavy polluters with collateral shift

Environmental campaigners have criticised the European Central Bank’s latest loosening of its collateral guidelines for disproportionately benefiting firms which are heavy emitters of carbon, reminiscent of airways and carmakers. 

The ECB modified its collateral guidelines in response to the pandemic virtually a 12 months in the past to begin accepting securities issued by “fallen angel” firms — people who have had their credit standing downgraded under funding grade for the reason that coronavirus disaster began.

Greenpeace stated the non permanent change to the principles had largely benefited heavy polluters, together with Lufthansa, International Airlines Group and Renault, in keeping with a report seen by the Financial Times. 

The fourth firm that benefited from the change was Technip, the oil providers group, leaving just one beneficiary that Greenpeace didn’t take into account to be a excessive carbon emitter: Adler, the German property group.

“That these assets are particularly carbon-intensive is not surprising: after all, it is precisely these business models that are coming under pressure from the transition to a net zero economy,” Greenpeace stated.

“The ECB’s task must not be to blindly support these companies, but to find a way to correct the climate-intensive imbalance of its monetary policy instruments as soon as possible,” the marketing campaign group added. “Only in this way can the politically agreed and socially desired path to climate neutrality succeed.”

Greenpeace argued that by altering its guidelines to permit “fallen angel” bonds to be eligible as collateral, the ECB had proven a “significant inconsistency” in the way it applies its market neutrality precept that goals to keep away from distorting relative pricing of securities.

The ECB declined to touch upon the report, though officers pointed to the truth that solely 3 per cent of its collateral is made up of company bonds, which means that the rule change had a comparatively small affect. 

The central financial institution is reluctant to color bonds as both brown or inexperienced, as a result of an organization might use the proceeds of a bond challenge to finance its transition to a much less carbon-intensive enterprise mannequin, for example a carmaker investing in electrical battery improvement.

Christine Lagarde, president of the ECB, stated in a latest letter to MEPs: “Other than in specific cases where the use of proceeds is specified (as for instance in the case of green bonds), eligible debt securities provide funding for general purposes and are not earmarked to finance individual assets or lines of business.”

“Consequently, determining a possible environmental impact based on backward-looking and sectoral or firm-level data could be misleading,” she added.

The challenge of whether or not the ECB ought to use its financial coverage instruments to deal with the mispricing of local weather danger has emerged as one of essentially the most contentious areas within the central financial institution’s assessment of its personal technique, which is because of conclude in September.

Campaigners have focused the ECB’s €270bn of company bond purchases for reinforcing the market’s bias in favour of heavy carbon emitters reminiscent of oil and fuel firms, utilities and airways as a result of these sectors challenge far more bonds than most others.

In a latest report, Greenpeace and different teams additionally attacked the ECB’s collateral framework, declaring that 59 per cent of the €1.6tn of company bonds eligible to be used are issued by heavy carbon emitters — far outweighing their share of jobs or financial output.

François Villeroy de Galhau, governor of the French central financial institution, not too long ago known as on the ECB to regulate the quantity of company bonds it buys and the worth of the collateral it accepts relying on how aligned firms are to attaining web zero emissions by 2050.

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