In 2013, US President Barack Obama called for an end to public financing for coal-fired power plants in his Climate Action Plan. This announcement helped catalyze a shift in international lending priorities, with the Nordic countries, the U.K. and the Netherlands, in addition to the World Bank, European Investment Bank, and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, all pledging to end financing for overseas coal except in rare circumstances. However, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, mainly through the Japanese Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), continues to actively promote coal-fired power plants. In fact, with USD $11.9 billion supporting coal projects since 2007, JBIC is the number one public financier of overseas coal in the world. We, a collection of NGOs from around the world, call on Prime Minister Abe to align Japan’s overseas investments with the international community and end support for coal plants.

Coal is at the core of many problems we face today. Not only is coal a key contributor to climate change, but people across the world are rising up in protest as soot, mercury, sulfur dioxide, and other deadly pollutants from coal-fired power plants put the lives of millions of people in nearby communities at risk. On top of that, coal plants have become increasingly risky investments, with the cost of coal rising while the cost of renewable energy alternatives continues to decline as the market rapidly grows.

The Japanese government claims that they are helping to mitigate climate change by using state-of-the-art coal technology, but there simply is no way to make a coal plant clean. During the Warsaw 2013 UNFCCC COP, 27 leading climate and energy scientists from 15 countries issued a joint statement that burning just 26% of the world’s known coal reserves would break the global “carbon budget”, and further stated that “there is no room in the remaining carbon budget for building unabated coal power plants, even highly efficient ones.”

If Japan continues on its current course, it will fall further behind the rest of the international community in the fight against climate change. However, Japan can restore its standing by taking advantage of President Obama’s visit and joining the pledge to end financing for overseas coal plants.


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