Japan, China, and South Korea are the top financiers of coal exports via international financial conduits, a new report has revealed.
International environmental groups have called for these countries to stop financing coal exports via Export Credit Agencies and asked all other countries involved in climate talks to honor their commitments to combat global warming by reducing carbon emissions.
The Natural Resources Defense Council, Oil Change International and World Wide Fund for Nature released the report, Under the Rug: How Governments and International Institutions are Hiding Billions in Support to the Coal Industry, exposing the secretive operation between governments and financial institutions to finance big polluters despite international outcry for urgent climate action.
The report said “total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions related to international public finance for coal between 2007 and 2014 conservatively amounted to almost half a billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) per year. Emissions are close to a total of 18 gigatonnes for the entire lifetime of the supported power plants alone.”
The report revealed US$73 billion or over $9 billion a year within that period in which public finance was approved for coal. Japan gave the largest amount of coal financing of any country, with over $20 billion during that time, followed by China with finance close to US$15 billion.
Korea, Germany, and Australia are among top sources of funds transmitted via financial agencies. These countries are also reported to be leading the opposition to limits on coal finance in international discussions, along with other countries which continue to resist pressure to end public financing.
The report comes a summit in Paris in December this year to ratify a commitment to cap carbon emissions and to solidify targets of limiting global temperature below two degrees Celsius.
The report recommends improved transparency to avoid catastrophic climate change. It calls for phasing out international public finance for all fossil fuel projects, including exploration for more fossil fuels.
The report also urges the immediate disclosure of exhaustive data on public finance for the entire energy sector. Funding has largely gone unnoticed as it is often hidden from view as many countries are choosing to sweep this under the rug, rather than face the necessary task of cleaning up their own houses, the report added.
World governments, particularly G20 and G7 members, have recognized the threat of climate change over the last eight years, and made repeated commitments to both fight climate change and end fossil fuel subsidies.
However, billions of dollars’ worth of government support continues to flow towards fossil fuels and coal. “This government financing for coal – largely in the form of export support, but also as development aid and general finance – is perpetuating coal use and exacerbating climate change. It needs to stop, immediately”, the report added.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said that at least 75 percent of existing fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground to avert global warming of more than two degrees. As coal makes up two-thirds of the carbon content of known global fossil fuel reserves, coal poses a serious threat to the climate.
Full Report HERE.
WWF calls EU for climate leadership in OECD talks before COP Paris
In Brussels, Belgium, 34 OECD countries convened for their annual Ministerial Meeting, June 3-4, while G7 Heads of States and governments will meet in Germany on June 7-8 as a key political opportunity to make their climate credibility by ending support for coal.
“Many developed country governments that push for ambitious climate action are simultaneously funding coal abroad. They cannot do both and be credible,” said WWF’s Global Climate and Energy initiative leader Samantha Smith. “It is time for rich nations to put their money behind the solutions, like renewable energy, rather than using taxpayers’ money to fuel climate change.”
WWF said international public finance for coal between 2007 and 2014 is blamed for Italy’s pollution, the country which ranked 20th in the highest amount of carbon emissions globally, “causing total greenhouse gas emissions amounting to almost half a billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year.”
Contradicting the claim that export finance for coal is necessary to fight energy poverty in poor countries, the report clearly shows that zero export finance for coal has gone to Low Income Countries, where the need for energy access is greatest, while one-fourth went to High Income Countries with no every poverty concerns.
Sébastien Godinot, economist at WWF European Policy Office said the EU, led by the European Commission, failed to agree an official position on coal export finance ahead of the OECD meeting taking place next week. He said EU Member States are still divided, with some willing to end support for coal plants and others being more reluctant. So far the EU has largely been inaudible in the OECD negotiations, he added.
“COP Paris is around the corner. It is time for European countries, the Commission and the EU as a whole to end procrastination and show leadership”, said Godinot, as “climate commitments and engagement to phase out fossil fuel subsidies should immediately lead the EU to ask the OECD to end export credits for coal.”