Coal contributes to global warming

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Global Temperature Index, 1880-2016 (NASA)

Coal is the single biggest contributor to carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the primary cause of climate change. A study attributes 63 percent of the carbon dioxide and methane emitted between 1751 and 2010 to just 90 entities. 37 of these are coal producers. Until now, these corporations haven’t been held accountable for their role in accelerating the climate crisis.

In order to limit global warming below 1.5C, the IPCC 1.5C report stipulates that no more new coal plants or any other fossil fuel based power stations can be built. As the most carbon-intensive power source, coal power must be reduced by as much as 78% globally by 2030 and oil and gas by 37% and 25% respectively. Despite this, governments across Asia are still planning to build new coal plants and new fossil fuel infrastructure, inviting climate disaster.

The 660 Megawatt Cirebon 1, coal power plant in Cirebon, West Java has for years brought adverse impacts on the health and livelihood of the communities living within the vicinity of the facility which has displaced them from their original sources of income as fishermen and salt miners. Photo: Ardiles Rante

Japanese banks are the biggest lenders to coal

Mizuho, MUFG, and SMBC, are ranked 1st, 2nd, and 3rd largest lenders to coal developers globally and provided US 39.3 billion over three years, which is around 40% of loans provided by the top 30 banks in total.

Banks around the world have started to adopt financing policies banning new support for coal, yet Japanese banks are reluctant to quit their coal addiction. Some small steps have been taken from these megabanks. Nevertheless, these policies are riddled with loopholes and leave the door wide open for continuing to invest in so-called “highly efficient” coal plants.

To cease the deadly impact to local communities, the banking sector must stop funding any new coal plants, regardless of how efficient they are maintained, and restrict corporate finance to any company involved in coal development. We stress again that no new coal power is legitimate — in all circumstances. Any new finance to oil and gas development or power facilities should also be restricted, in line with the 1.5C temperature goal.

Feb 2019

  • 21 banks have stopped direct financing to new coal mines projects worldwide;
  • 20 banks have stopped direct financing to new coal plants projects worldwide.
    Source: BankTrack

All over Asia, communities are affected by these investments.

From Indonesia to the Philippines, Vietnam to India, the pouring in of foreign investments in coal plants mean that communities continuously have to suffer their most dangerous impacts as well as threats from authorities and corporations. There are multiple cases of health impacts and human rights abuses reported but repeatedly ignored, all for supposed shared progress and economic development.

In Van Phong Bay, Vietnam, Pham Ti Ca, a 99-year-old grandmother, stands strong against intimidation and even after authorities bulldozed her property to forcibly remove her family from the site for a coal plant sponsored by the Sumitumo Banking Corporation. In Batang, Indonesia, fishermen and farmers who live near the 2,000-megawatt Batang Coal Plant financed by Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ, Mizuho Japan and Norinchukin Bank Japan among others, report dwindling catch and job loss even before the plant is operational. The stories go on all over the region.

Witness the plight of a community where San Miguel Global Power’s 600-megawatt coal plant stands no more than 500 meters away from a fisherfolk community in Limay, Bataan

Don’t be fooled by the Greenwash.

Despite new credit policies released by a number of banks in Asia which purport to restrict financing for the coal sector, there are loopholes that would allow them to continue supporting new coal projects and none have so far restricted finance for oil and gas. In May 2019, Japan’s Mitsubishi UFJ announced its commitment to end funding for new coal plants after their new Environmental and Social Policy Framework takes effect on July 1, 2019. Forestry, palm oil and coal mining were added to their list of “restricted transactions” in recognition of their “potential negative impacts to the environment and society.” While this sounds well and good, this declaration came with a major loophole, particularly when the bank made an exception for the “adoption of advanced technologies for high efficiency power generation and Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage (CCS) technologies”.

Closer scrutiny of other coal policies in the region, such as that of Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. and DBS Group Holdings, Singapore’s two most significant lenders, reveal loopholes that exempt “existing commitments”, such as their investments in coal plants in Vietnam.

Without full exclusion of new money for coal development and fossil fuel expansion, including project finance for new plants or new corporate loans to companies involved in expansion, these policies only amount to greenwash – which serve to mask the real impacts of the banks financing to the fossil fuel industry.

You can stop it today.

No new money to fossil fuels.
It’s time to fund climate solutions.

It’s simple — to prevent climate breakdown and keep global temperature rise below 1.5C,  we have to ensure that no new coal plants or fossil fuel infrastructure is built, and a transition plan towards 100% renewable energy is rapidly put in place – centred on social and economic justice. 

To do this, we need to push banks to end all finance to coal and fossil fuels, and ensure that all new finance flows to climate solutions. 

How do we pressure banks to fund the just transition? 

Through sustained public organising and people power aimed at the major banks funding new coal, oil and gas projects, and actively resisting new projects together with communities on the ground. 

Together, we will show banks that only business models aligned with climate justice and a zero carbon future are acceptable.

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