Japan, Germany and South Korea have been singled out as the worst offenders in helping to finance carbon-intensive coal projects in an NGO report on Tuesday.
The report titled “Under the Rug” by NRDC, WWF and Oil Change International found that public money has backed more than $73 billion in coal-related projects over the past eight years which have resulted in emissions equivalent to Italy’s annual total.
“These publicly financed dirty energy projects are taking the world in the exact opposite direction from where we need to go to solve the growing climate crisis and protect future generations,” said Jake Schmidt, International Program Director at NRDC.
The environmental groups called for an end to such financing, except in very rare circumstances where poorer nations have few alternative energy sources.
Japan’s coal finance was over $20 billion, while Korea and Germany financed over $6 billion over the period, the report found.
It said the US, France and the World Bank had taken the lead in recent years by significantly reducing finance for coal projects.
The public financing cited includes direct loans, guarantees, policy lending and technical assistance, along with coal lending through financial intermediaries.
This includes via governmental export credit agencies, which provide financial support to companies selling their technology abroad such as France’s Alstom and Germany’s Siemens, which argues its equipment will reduce emissions compared to less efficient alternatives.
Last week Reuters reported that nations were unlikely to reach an agreement to phase out export credits for coal at an OECD meeting in Paris on June 9-12.
Japan has faced particular criticism for including coal projects as part of its contributions on climate finance to help poorer nations tackle climate change. It has also not ruled out using earning carbon credits from coal projects via its fledgling Joint Crediting Mechanism.
The NGO report also found that none of the export finance had gone to low income countries and a quarter went to richer nations with no energy poverty issues.
The findings come the day after the launch of a new global research plan, the Global Apollo Programme, which calls on governments to scale up research funding with the aim of making renewable energy cheaper than new coal plants worldwide by 2025.
The Programme calls for government research spending to be scaled up from $6 billion a year to a minimum of $15 billion, and to share the findings.
By Ben Garside – firstname.lastname@example.org