• Germany's news in English

German banks break non-nuclear promises

The Local · 12 Mar 2013, 12:48

Published: 12 Mar 2013 12:48 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper said on Tuesday that the earthquake-triggered meltdown in Fukushima prompted not only the German government's hasty change of heart about closing down all nuclear power stations, but also promises from banks to stop investing in such projects.

Germany's biggest bank, Deutsche Bank, said it was going to initially stop all loans which would be used in nuclear projects, while the Hypo-Vereinsbank (HVB) was clear when it said it would "no longer give credit to companies which do not address the issue of the environment." This included new nuclear power stations overseas.

Yet two years later, environmental group Urgewald has checked the promises made while the Fukushima plant was in meltdown. Although some banks have discontinued all business with uranium mines and nuclear power stations, others have done practically nothing, the Frankfurter Rundschau said.

The HVB and Deutsche Bank in particular were singled out for criticism. The group Urgewald checked the financing of the three most important uranium firms, Areva, BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, which between them cover a third of the global market. Areva is also one of the leading nuclear power station constructors.

The group also asked the association of the eight biggest German banks about their protocols for granting credit.

Commerzbank and BayernLB exited nuclear business

Commerzbank and BayernLB have completely exited the nuclear power business, the result showed. "Fukushima showed that nuclear power is a high-risk technology with consequences that barely be calculated," said BayernLB in a report. "Thus the bank will not fund any new projects to construct new nuclear power stations or for the mining of nuclear fuel."

Commerzbank said it "did not finance nuclear power stations or uranium mines on principle." The Deka-bank said it had never done so.

But the other large banks had changed little, the group said.

The Landesbank Baden-Württemberg (LBBW) has funded many nuclear companies, the Frankfurter Rundschau said - and has to this day not adopted special criteria for the nuclear sector. And while Deutsche Bank said it checked each individual case for security, also had no specific nuclear criteria. The HVB said it had standards which were based on the rules of international organisations, but would not say what these were.

Four of the eight big German banks - Commerzbank, Deutsche Bank, HVB and LBBW - continued to fund energy companies, the Frankfurter Rundschau said. And although all stress that they support renewable energy, they have no idea what is done with the money they put into the energy firms, the paper said.

Story continues below…

Deutsche Bank and HVB invest in uranium mines

And despite the well-known catastrophic effects on public health and the environment associated with uranium mines in Africa and Eastern Europe, Urgewald said that Deutsche Bank put more than €1.1 billion into mining firms Areva and Rio Tinto between March 2011 and January 2013.

HVB put more than €944 million into Areva and BHP, the group said, although the bank would not comment on reports that its managers had given explicit guarantees worth €500 million to Areva for the expansion of the accident-hit Czech nuclear power station Temelin - just on the border with Germany.

The Local/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

14:47 March 12, 2013 by whiteriver
".. for the expansion of the accident-hit Czech nuclear power station Temelin.."

English is not my native language, but does this sentece implies that Temelin had an accident? Then, could you please give the sources of this accident?
15:08 March 12, 2013 by raandy
yes it does, but because there is little other info i would assume there was no radiation leak.

The banks are very aware that nuclear power is not going away, only in Germany, but Germany will still be purchasing nuke power from outside its borders. Banks were not mandated to stop lending to nuclear power.
Today's headlines
Outrage over ruling on 'brutal' gang rape of teen girl
The now convicted suspects, sitting in court in Hamburg. Photo: DPA.

A 14-year-old girl was gang-raped and left partially clothed and unconscious in freezing temperatures. Now prosecutors are appealing the sentences for the young men found guilty, most of whom will not set foot in jail.

Dozens of Turkish diplomats apply for asylum in Germany
Demonstrators holding a giant Turkish flag protest against the attempted coup in Istanbul in July. Photo: DPA.

Since the failed putsch attempt in Turkey in July, Germany has received 35 asylum applications from people with Turkish diplomatic passports, the Interior Ministry confirmed on Wednesday.

Hertha Berlin fan club criticised for 'anti-gay banner'
Hertha BSC beat FC Cologne 2-1. Photo: DPA

A 50 metre fan banner apparently mocking the idea of gay adoption has overshadowed Hertha BSC's win in the Bundesliga.

Germany stalls Chinese takeover of tech firm Aixtron
Aixtron headquarters in Herzogenrath. Photo: DPA

The German government on Monday said it had withdrawn approval for a Chinese firm to acquire Aixtron, a supplier to the semiconductor industry, amid growing unease over Chinese investment in German companies.

Politicians call for tough sentences for 'killer clowns'
File photo: DPA.

Now that the so-called 'killer clown' craze has spread from the US to Germany, elected officials are drawing a hard line against such "pranks", with some threatening offenders with jail time of up to a year.

Nearly one in ten Germans are severely disabled
Photo: DPA

New figures reveal that 9.3 percent of the German population last year were considered severely disabled.

The Local List
Germany's top 10 most surreal sites to visit
The Upside-Down House, in Mecklenburg–Western Pomerania. Photo: Olaf Meister / Wikimedia Commons

From upside-down houses on Baltic islands to a fairy-tale castle near the Austrian border, Germany is a treasure trove of the extraordinary.

Bavarian critics back Merkel for Chancellor again
Photo: DPA

The Christian Social Union (CSU) have long delayed backing Angela Merkel as their candidate for Chancellor in next year's general election. But now key leaders are supporting her publicly.

Four taken to hospital after hotel toilet bursts into flames
File photo: DPA.

Four guests at a Nuremberg hotel were taken to hospital due to smoke inhalation early Monday morning after a toilet there burst into flames.

Creepy clown scare spreads to Germany
Two of the clowns were apparently equipped with chainsaws. Photo: Pedro Pardo / AFP file picture

Police said Friday five incidents involving so-called scary clowns had occurred in two north German towns, including one assailant who hit a man with a baseball bat, amid fears that Halloween could spark a rash of similar attacks.

10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd