TĐH: Vietnam is No. 1 coal-plant finance recipient.
Despite countless warnings and mounting economic evidence to the contrary, countries continue to expand the number of new coal-fired power plants, a push which is currently being led by China, Japan, and South Korea, according to the latest figures from CoalSwarm released last week.
Dangerously, even as these three countries seek to transition their own economies away from coal-fired power and towards large-scale renewable energy sources — sources such as solar and offshore and onshore wind — they are also providing significant funding for overseas coal plants in developing nations.
Specifically, China’s public financial institutions have financed at least 26 gigawatts (GW) worth of coal plants overseas and may finance at least 42 GW in the future; Japan’s public financial institutions have financed at least 19 GW and might finance at least 11 GW more; while South Korea has financed at least 8 GW and might finance 9 GW more.
These are the findings from CoalSwarm’s new Global Coal Finance Tracker, an interactive online database which can be used to track international flows of financial support for coal projects by public institutions.
“Climate change cannot be addressed as long as coal plants continue to be built,” said Ted Nace, Executive Director of CoalSwarm. “The database exposes a dangerous double standard, which is that China, Japan, and South Korea continue to be the largest sources of public funding for overseas coal plants, even as they transition their own economies away from coal.”
The new Tracker allows anyone to view sources of finance and their direction, and shows that Indonesia, Vietnam, and South Africa are the leading recipients which have led to the construction of 14.5 GW, 10.8 GW, and 9.5 GW respectively.
In terms of the world’s leading financier of new coal-fired power plants, the China Development Bank leads the way, having financed 14 GW, while the Export-Import Bank of China has financed 13.4 GW.
As to why countries with thriving clean energy industries are supporting overseas coal development, I asked Ted Nace for his opinion, and he explained that countries like Japan, South Korea, and China are continuing to finance new coal plants overseas in an effort to “protect their equipment manufacturers, even at the price of exacerbating global warming. These governments need to recognize that such financing comes with a high risk of default as renewables prices continue to tumble. By the time a coal plant ordered today is built, it will not be able to compete in most of the world, especially in countries with excellent solar potential like India, Pakistan, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Egypt.”
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