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Activists paraglide onto ECB building in Frankfurt

March 10, 2021

The stunt was a protest against the European Central Bank's climate policy. On Tuesday, a think tank report argued that the ECB's lending rules favored polluters.

A Greenpeace activist flies with a motorized paraglider past the ECB in Frankfurt, Germany, to protest against the bank's climate policy
A Greenpeace activist flies with a motorized paraglider past the ECB in Frankfurt, Germany, to protest against the bank's climate policyImage: Michael Probst/AP/picture alliance

Greenpeace activists landed on top of the European Central Bank's press center in Frankfurt on Wednesday, unfurling a banner which read "Stop funding climate killers!"

After flying over the Main river in the German city, two paragliders landed on the low-rise ECB complex, accusing the bank of funding polluters. 

A spokesperson from the bank confirmed the breach and said the police had been informed. He added that the ECB was conducting a review of its strategy and this process included a thorough analysis of its climate crisis practices.

A banner reading 'Stop funding climate killers'
Paragliders landed on the ECB press center and unfurled a 12-meter banner accusing the ECB of "funding climate killers"Image: Boris Roessler/dpa/picture alliance

Why was the ECB targeted?

The ECB has long been criticized for not considering long term climate risk when it buys bonds and gives credit.

On Tuesday, think tank New Economics argued the ECB's lending mechanisms favored carbon intensive industries and called for new rules that benefit "green" companies while punishing energy intensive firms.

Greenpeace says the ECB backs assets worth some €300 billion ($356 billion) that benefit more than 60 carbon-heavy companies, including Shell, Total, Eni, OMV and Repsol.

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Greenpeace: 'Carbon bias is rife at the ECB'

"Carbon bias is rife at the European Central Bank," Greenpeace International executive director Jennifer Morgan said in a statement.

"Instead of favoring fossil fuels, the ECB must at once exclude these toxic assets and change the rules to tackle the climate emergency we live in. A green and just transition to a resilient carbon-free world must be front and center for the ECB."

With €1.8 trillion in outstanding loans to banks, the ECB has become the single biggest source of funding for the euro zone economy and its plan to keep increasing its balance sheet indicates a significant role for many years to come.

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jsi/rt (Reuters, dpa)