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LIFE: new financial instruments

Two new financial instruments have been established under the 2014-17 work plan for the EU’s LIFE programme, published in the official journal on Thursday. LIFE funds EU environmental projects and programmes.

The natural capital financing facility (NCFF) will use up to €30m of public funds to leverage private investment in revenue-generating or cost-saving environmental pilot schemes.

It will initially fund three to four projects a year, providing upfront investment and operating costs. The types of initiatives that will be eligible include those based around payments for ecosystem services and biodiversity offsets.

The other facility of LIFE programme, the private finance for energy efficiency instrument, is meant to increase the availability of debt financing for energy efficiency improvements and make this kind of loan more widespread in EU financial markets.

The European Investment Bank, which will run this and the NCFF, will provide a risk-sharing facility for private financial institutions, expert support and long-term loans.

It has been given an €80m budget and should sign between six and ten agreements with banks over the next four years. Both facilities will be reviewed in 2017.

The remainder of the work plan, which was adopted by the European Commission in March and will also be run by the EU executive, provides €1.3bn for environmental projects and operational spending and €450m for climate, in line with EU’s budget.

The biggest area of spending is nature and biodiversity with a particular emphasis on the Natura 2000 network of protected sites, which needs more investment. Climate adaptation and mitigation have both been given budgets of around €190m.

There are various targets that have to be met for the different funding areas by 2017, such as funding air quality projects covering more than 1 million people and climate mitigation projects in at least seven member states.


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