The Slovenia Times

EIB's crucial role in shaping a sustainable future

Kyriacos Kakouris, vice-president of the European Investment Bank. Photo: Nebojša Tejić/STA

The green transition is not just a moral imperative but a vital driver of Europe's economic competitiveness, Kyriacos Kakouris, vice-president of the European Investment Bank, writes in his op-ed for the Slovenia Times as he sets out the bank's role in financing climate action and fostering sustainable growth, including in Slovenia.

I am proud to share the remarkable strides the European Investment Bank (EIB) Group has taken in leading the global charge towards a sustainable and resilient future. The EIB Group has firmly established itself as a climate leader, pioneering transformative initiatives that align with the European Union's goals and extend globally.

The urgency of the green transition cannot be overstated. It is not just a moral imperative but a vital driver of Europe's economic competitiveness. The energy revolution is already underway, and Europe must seize this moment to lead the way.

One of our defining achievements is being the first multilateral development bank to align with the Paris Agreement, coupled with the cessation of investments in unabated fossil fuel energy projects. Such commitments underline our dedication to combating climate change and steering towards a low-carbon, sustainable future.

In recognition of the pressing need for action, the EIB actively contributes to the Global Renewables and Energy Efficiency Pledge, a significant undertaking announced at COP28 in Dubai. This pledge, supported by over 100 countries, including the European Union and the COP28 Presidency, sets ambitious targets for tripling the global installed capacity of renewable energy sources and doubling the rate of energy efficiency improvements by 2030.

We deliver - in 2023 the EIB Group directly financed €49 billion for climate action and environmental sustainability, up from €38 billion in 2022. With €349 billion of green investment supported since 2021, the EIB Group is on track to achieve the goal of €1 trillion of green financing supported by the end of the decade.

Our commitment extends to fostering economic growth and sustainable development in Slovenia. In 2023, the EIB Group announced a robust year of financing for projects in Slovenia, totaling €359 million in new commitments signed. Our financing is not just a monetary investment; it is a strategic move to support growth and sustain jobs during challenging economic periods.

The financing of the Divača-Koper Second Rail Track, a strategic railway project in Slovenia, exemplifies our commitment to infrastructure development and cleaner transportation. With a €250 million loan, this project addresses capacity constraints, improves rail access to the port of Koper, and anticipates annual emissions savings of around 49,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent, creating 13,000 jobs during construction.

Recognizing the imperative to reduce CO2 emissions, the EIB's lending in 2023 as part of the REPowerEU initiative exceeding €21 billion, sets a new standard. This initiative aims to reduce Europe's dependence on fossil fuels and accelerate the green transition, with an estimated mobilized investment of over €150 billion by 2027.

The challenges highlighted by the International Energy Agency (IEA) regarding electricity grids' role as a potential weak link in clean energy transitions have not gone unnoticed. In response, the EIB provided €3.8 billion in 2023 for electricity grids and storage, crucial investments to meet national climate targets and ensure energy security in Slovenia.

Our collaboration with regional companies in the electricity distribution sector exemplifies our dedication to strengthening the electricity grid, a key enabler of the energy transition. A €42 million loan signed in 2023 with Elektro Primorska aligns with our mission to bolster the region's energy infrastructure while adhering to the highest sustainability standards - and cooperation with other companies in the sector is ongoing.

Our commitment to innovation is unwavering. Recognizing that a third of required emission cuts rely on technologies not yet cost-competitive, we understand the need to support innovation at the core of the green energy transition. Scaling up innovative solutions not only helps meet climate targets but also strengthens the competitiveness of our economies, enhances energy security, and creates new jobs.

As we look ahead to 2024, we are working to deliver financing for projects in various sectors, including sustainable transport, energy efficiency, and affordable housing. The EIB, in collaboration with the private sector, is intensifying efforts to foster the growth of private companies in Slovenia and the wider region.

In conclusion, securing sustainable and affordable energy is a strategic imperative. The EIB Group, with its steadfast commitment to a just transition, is actively working towards helping regional economies decarbonize in a socially responsible manner. Through long-term financing, advisory support, and technical assistance, we contribute to build a better, more resilient future for all.


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