Press Release - Thursday, July 19, 2001

NGOs call on G8 governments to soon adopt high level binding common environmental guidelines for their Export Credit Agencies.
Genoa, July 19th, 2001 – Several development and environmental NGOs have gathered at the GSF Public Forum to urge G8 leaders, on the eve of their Summit, to adopt common binding environmental guidelines for their Export Credit Agencies (ECAs) drawing upon high level international recognised standards. Thus, in order to prevent further massive environmental degradation by ECA-backed projects in developing countries and economies in transition, like the mammoth Three Gorges dam which will relocate more than 1.5 million people in China.
“Three years ago G8 leaders”, said Pamela Foster from the Halifax Initiative in Canada, “committed to provide Ecas  with common environmental guidelines and now they cannot come to an agreement to uphold their own international commitment. We are to let world civil society put shame on them”.
Last Monday the G8’s Renewable Energy Task Force released its report in Rome and specifically urged G8 countries to implement common binding environmental guidelines for ECAs, including criteria to assess environmental impacts of ECA-financed projects, minimum standard of energy-efficiency or carbon-intensity for these projects and a common reporting methodology for ECAs to permit assessment of their local and global environmental impacts. US and Canada have refused to endorse the package of recommendations as formulated in the experts’ report. The Italian government seems pleased to endorse a low profile aimed at watering down the whole process.
“Export credit agencies can act as an important vehicle in providing clean, abundant energy to the 2 billion people worldwide who are without power and, by doing so, tackling climate change”, said Antonio Tricarico, from Eyes on SACE Campaign in Italy. “Now time is running out and G8 leaders need to act for saving the global environment. The Italian presidency has the responsibility to urge G7 partners, and in particular oil tycoon US President Bush, to adopt now the report recommendations aimed at reducing ECAs’ investment in fossil fuels and nuclear”.
European governments are the most reluctant to adopt stringent environmental guidelines for their export. In particular, the German government is putting a lot of efforts to stop the environmental reform of ECAs. “How can we believe Chancellor Schroeder’s commitment to protect the global environment and tackle climate change”, said Antje Schulteis from WEED in Germany, “if Hermes goes on funding destruction of  local environments and fragile ecosystems in Southern countries by exporting weapons, large dams and pulp and paper mills all over the world?”
Germany is heavily involved in the pulp and paper sector in Indonesia, where German companies get large profits under the protection of the German ECA, Hermes, leaving on the field just environmental and social degradation. “German companies have devastated our forests, lands and rivers”, said Titi Soentoro from Solidaritas Perempuan in Indonesia, “and they were sure to be paid in any case by their governments thanks to ECA guarantees and credits. Who is insuring our risks now once these companies grab their profits and choose new resources to exploit in the South? G8 countries have to implement soon a radical social and environmental reform of their ECAs.”
Export Credit Agencies are responsible for more than one quarter of global financial foreign debt that the South owes to the North. Yesterday more than 400 people representing national and international NGOs claimed the restitution of the social and ecological debt owed to the South mainly by G8 countries.
For further information and interviews with international NGO guests please contact in Genoa:
Luca Manes, Press Officer, Campagna per la riforma della Banca mondiale, Italy, 335.57 21 837
Antonio Tricarico, Campagna per la riforma della Banca mondiale, Italy, 328.84 85 448
Antje Schulteis, WEED, Germany, +49.174.39 52 942
Pamela Foster, Halifax Initiative, Canada 335.78 81 731