EBRD President optimistic ahead of 2015 Paris climate summit

By Anthony Williams

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EBRD President Sir Suma Chakrabarti said on Tuesday he was looking ahead to next year's climate talks in Paris with optimism despite continuing global economic problems.

He was speaking at the Global Green Growth Forum (3GF) summit in Copenhagen, attended by senior politicians as well as climate experts and business representatives.

The EBRD President said there was growing momentum towards an agreement at the Paris meeting, partly reflecting a greater sense of commitment at last month's UN climate talks in New York which the Copenhagen conference was now taking further.

The route to Paris was not going to be easy, especially as governments might be distracted away from the sustainable energy agenda by immediate economic problems. However, Sir Suma was particularly encouraged by the very strong demand for the EBRD's own sustainable energy investments which now account for some 33 per cent of the Bank's annual financing.

Since the EBRD launched its Sustainable Energy Initiative in 2006, it had invested over US$ 20 billion in more than 700 energy efficiency and renewable energy projects that had attracted additional commercial finance of another US$ 60 billion.

Sir Suma said that the EBRD was driving forward the climate agenda by convincing governments and entrepreneurs that energy efficiency makes both economic and business sense. Companies – and national economies – could become more competitive by being more energy efficient and cutting energy costs.

There was increasing demand for the EBRD's own instruments for sustainable energy financing, not just in the Bank's own countries where it invests but also in other areas, where the EBRD was being asked to share its expertise in other regions.

The EBRD President said it was crucial in the run-up to the Paris talks that governments demonstrated political leadership that looked beyond short-term electoral timetables.

Governments had a significant role to play in providing a regulatory and political framework that supported the climate for investment in the sustainable energy arena.

Sir Suma also pointed to the vital role that would be played by the private sector especially at a time of stretched public finances. He noted that two-thirds of the EBRD's sustainable energy funding was in the private sector but added that the Bank was looking to broaden the scope of potential partners by linking up with sovereign wealth funds and large institutional investors such as pension funds.

The EBRD was aiming to bundle individual projects together to create a critical mass large enough to attract funding from these sorts of partners.

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