In the Name of COVID-19: Is the ECB Fuelling the Climate Crisis?

We offer preliminary evidence drawing on a novel dataset of corporate bonds issued in the European energy sector since January 2020 in combination with the European Central Bank’s (ECB) purchases under the Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme (PEPP) in response to COVID-19. We show that the likelihood of an European energy company bond to be bought as part of the ECB’s programme increases with the greenhouse gas (GHG) intensity of the bond issuing firm. We also find weaker evidence that the ECB’s PEPP portfolio during the pandemic is likely to become tilted towards companies with anti-climate lobbying activities and companies with less transparent greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions disclosure. Our findings imply that, at later stages of the COVID-19 recovery, an in-depth analysis maybe necessary to understand if and if yes, why the ECB fuelled the climate crisis.