G20 nations still financing overseas coal projects: Report

Marrakech, Nov 14 (IANS) The G20 countries continue pumping billions in overseas coal development and Japan’s plans to build dozens of so-called high-efficiency coal power plants, both of which undermine the landmark Paris Agreement and clean energy deployment, two new reports said on Monday.

Over the past nine years, the G20 countries — led by China, Japan, Germany, South Korea and the US — have kicked in $76 billion to further coal development in countries such as Vietnam, South Africa, Australia and Indonesia, US-based environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) said in its report.

The report, “Carbon Trap: How International Coal Finance Undermines the Paris Agreement and Clean Energy Deployment”, was released on Monday by the NRDC and the Oil Change International on the sidelines of 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP22) here.

In Paris last December, nearly 200 countries agreed to slash their dependence on fossil fuels in a concerted effort to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial level in order to avoid a climate crisis.

The Kiko Network also released a report here challenging Japan’s plans to build dozens of so-called high efficiency coal power plants.

Essentially this means that, says the NRDC report, on one hand, some of the world’s leading polluters have pledged to lower climate-changing carbon pollution within their borders under the Paris Climate Change Agreement, while on the other, these countries are facilitating a massive boom in that carbon pollution by financing coal development elsewhere, and the planet ultimately suffers.

“Our climate knows that countries can’t have it both ways. They can’t publicly boast about slashing climate pollution at home while also continuing to finance enormous coal development abroad,” said report co-author Han Chen, international climate advocate at the NRDC.

“These nations need to clean up their act. They should stop pouring billions into dirty energy and instead put more financial muscle behind clean, renewable energy, and energy efficiency. That will create jobs and protect the planet from climate catastrophe.”

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states the burning of fossil fuels is contributing to the rise in global temperatures.

Unfortunately, key governments continue to invest in projects that further the world’s dependence on coal, making climate change worse.

An official statement quoting Belantara Foundation CEO Agus Sari said: “In Indonesia, companies are already divesting from coal investments due to the risk of stranded assets. We know that in Indonesia, coal will not solve our energy access issues, because what we need is greater investments in renewable energies suited to our geography.”

“Japan and China are both leaders in renewable energy technology, yet instead of growing their share of the clean energy market, they are choosing to choke the planet by backing dozens of new coal-fired power plants around the world,” said Alex Doukas, senior campaigner with the Oil Change International.

Japan has the most financing in the pipeline for future coal projects.

Kimiko Hirata, International Director of the Kiko Network, said: “Even after the historic Paris Agreement and the OECD agreement were reached, Japan is still investing significant amounts of money in coal and encouraging new projects — ignoring the fact that there’s no space in the global carbon budget to build new coal.”

She said Japan cannot be proud of competing with China over spreading dirty energy all over the world.

“As a signatory to the Paris Agreement, Japan should stop financing coal immediately and stop causing health problems and climate disaster,” Hirata said.

The third report released here on Monday by the Climate Analytics outlines what the Paris Agreement means for coal power globally. It says the world needs to reduce coal use, starting with the developed countries.

The study speaks to the world’s energy plans going forward, how developed countries need to stop using coal by 2030 and China by 2040, if the world needs to keep well below 2 degrees.

It also links with the concepts of stranded assets, and the co-benefits of reducing coal use, for example, air quality gains.

(Vishal Gulati is in Marrakech in Morocco to cover COP22. He can be contacted at vishal.g@ians.in)