coal mining

Heavyweight investors demand G7 countries abandon coal-fired power plants

A group of 288 institutional investors with a combined $26tr (£19tr) in assets have called on the G7 countries to phase out the use of coal-fired power plants in a bid to halt climate change.

In a joint statement from the group of investors - which includes companies such as Allianz, HSBC and BNP Paribas - they “strongly urge” governments around the world to adhere to carbon reduction measures as laid out in the 2015 Paris Agreement.

“The global shift to clean energy is underway, but much more needs to be done by governments to accelerate the low-carbon transition and to improve the resilience of our economy, society and the financial system to climate risks,” the statement reads.

“We are concerned that the implementation of the Paris Agreement is currently falling short of the agreed goal of ‘holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels’”.

The group believes that the plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions were already too weak to limit warming, as agreed by world leaders at a Paris summit in 2015.

The G7 is composed of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the US. In 2016, all seven countries pledged to phase out their support for fossil fuels by 2025 and the use of them entirely by 2050.

The US, one of the foremost contributors to global carbon output, exited the Paris Agreement in June 2017 following a decision by the Trump administration, which believes the pact undermines US job creation. 

As part of action to slow climate change, the investors have now called on governments to “phase out thermal coal power worldwide by set deadlines”, to phase out fossil fuel subsidies and to “put a meaningful price on carbon”.

The investors also urged governments to strengthen national plans for cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and to ensure that companies improve climate-related financial reporting.

The statement follows a recent study that found that the fossil fuel sector is heavily propped up by at least $100bn in annual subsidies from the G7.

The study, led by Britain's Overseas Development Institute (ODI), singled out the UK specifically for performing relatively poorly in comparison to other G7 countries in the phase-out of its fossil fuel subsidies.

However, its subsidy phase-out commitments and pledges were praised, along with the phase-out of support for coal mining.

“Governments often say they have no public resources to support the clean energy transition,” the study’s lead author Shelagh Whitley said. “What we’re trying to do is highlight that those resources are there (but) it is being used inefficiently.

“The G7 have pledged to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, but they don’t have any systems in terms of accountability to meet the pledges - they don’t have road maps or plans.”

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