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European Banks Fail to Back Enough Green Projects, UNEP FI Says

European banks must do more to support renewable energy projects if a target set by the European Union is to be met, said Richard Burrett, co-chairman of the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative.

“Banks are very much on the back foot,” Burrett said yesterday in an interview in London at an Ethical Corporation summit on sustainable finance. “If we’re going to meet the EU’s targets for 2020 we need to be putting billions of euros of capital into the clean energy space and green technologies.”

The European Union aims to get 20 percent of its energy requirement from renewable sources by 2020, a goal that member states must each contribute to. The U.K. proposed a cut of as much as 55 percent in the price for solar power in October, while both France and Italy have scaled back their so-called feed-in tariffs for solar energy producers this year.

Triodos Bank NV, a Dutch ethical lender, and the Co-Operative Group Ltd., the U.K.’s largest mutual lender, “are great examples of what can be done but they’re relatively small examples,” said Burrett.

UNEP FI, the UN’s Environment Programme Finance Initiative, is a partnership between UNEP and about 200 financial institutions.

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