New Study: Government financing for coal “exacerbating climate change” and “needs to stop, immediately”

Our previous post discussed the continued subsidies and other favors flowing to coal and other fossil fuels. That includes President Obama’s recent decision to open up “thousands more acres of public land to coal mining.”  Now, a new study is out, highlighting how even as governments around the world ” have made commitments to limit global temperature rise to 2°C,” simultaneously “billions of dollars’ worth of government support continues to flow towards fossil fuels and, incredibly, towards coal.”

The full extent of government financing for coal overseas is not common knowledge, and is revealed in this report for the first time. A very large amount of public financing has been flowing to coal projects around the world. Our analysis finds that public finance has played a significant role in supporting coal projects over the last 8 years. Between 2007 and 2014, more than US $73 billion — or over $9 billion a year — in public finance was approved for coal.

This funding is being provided by a handful of countries that continue to resist pressure to end this public financing. Japan provided the largest amount of coal financing of any country, with over $20 billion of finance from 2007 to 2014. In the OECD, Korea and Germany were the next largest sources of funding for coal. Japan, Korea and Australia are leading the opposition to limits on coal finance in international discussions.

A few more key points from the report, with which we strongly agree, include:

  • “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.”
  • “Using scarce public resources to subsidize coal power plants, mining, and infrastructure development in a carbon-constrained world is unacceptable. “
  • “Governments – particularly Japan, Korea and Australia- are placing the corporate profits of their own coal companies above the interests of the global climate. “
  • Government need to: 1) “Immediately end all international finance for coal;” 2) “Phase out international public finance for all fossil fuel projects;” and 3) “Immediately disclose exhaustive data on public finance for the entire energy sector.

The bottom line is that governments need to stop subsidizing the stuff that’s destroying our futures. Instead, governments should be subsidizing a transition to clean, non-carbon-emitting energy as rapidly as possible.  That’s so obvious it seems like it shouldn’t even have to be stated, but apparently there are governments out there that still don’t “get it.”