* 39 MEPs sign letter to country heads
* Call for govts to stop financial support of Arctic LNG project
LONDON, May 18 (Reuters) - A group of mostly Green Party lawmakers from the European Parliament on Wednesday urged the leaders of Germany, France and Italy not to support a Russian Arctic liquefied natural gas (LNG) project due to climate change concerns.
The $21 billion project, led by Russian gas producer Novatek and with international backers including French oil major Total , is expected to launch in 2023 and reach full LNG production capacity of almost 20 million tonnes a year in 2026.
The lawmakers’ call comes a day after the International Energy Agency said to cap global warming in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change, all investments in new fossil fuel projects must cease.
In a letter here to the French, German and Italian governments, 39 lawmakers of the roughly 250 from those countries in the European parliament called on them to shelve any plans to finance the Arctic LNG project.
“We urge the French, German and Italian governments to refuse to support this project and set a new standard by ending all export finance support to fossil fuels before COP26,” the letter said. COP26 is the next U.N. climate summit, due to take place in Scotland in November.
Marie Toussaint, one of the signatories, told Reuters the project was “an ecological, economic and social aberration and must be stopped immediately”.
Reuters reported in September that France’s Bpifrance, Germany’s Euler Hermes and Italy’s SACE were among the state-backed international lenders considering providing about $9.5 billion in financial support for the project.
SACE declined to comment, while Bpifrance said it operates on behalf of the French government. The French government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The German government, to which Euler Hermes defers requests on this topic, on Wednesday said it had received an application for an export credit guarantee linked to Arctic LNG 2, and that this is still under review. (Reporting by Simon Jessop; Editing by Jan Harvey)