Public is Financing $73 billion in Coal Development, Report Reveals

Governments, financial institutions worldwide still backing coal-fired power plants and coal mining worsening climate pollution

WASHINGTON (June 2, 2015) –International financial institutions and governments worldwide are pouring billions of dollars into building new and existing coal-fired power plants and expanding coal mining – activities that worsen dangerous carbon pollution, according to a new report that calls for an end to all international coal financing, except in very rare circumstances.

The report, “Under the Rug: How Governments and International Institutions Are Hiding Billions in Support to the Coal Industry,” documents for the first time key governments and financing organizations that have backed more than $73 billion in coal-related projects over the last eight years. The full extent of government financing for coal-related development overseas is not common knowledge, and the report’s findings are relatively conservative.

These projects have added half a billion tons of new carbon pollution to the air annually. That’s equal to the annual carbon pollution released by Italy, the world’s 20th largest emitter of the pollution fueling climate change.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, Oil Change International and the World Wide Fund for Nature, which co-authored the report, call for an immediate end to such coal financing, and single out Japan, Germany, and Korea, along with other countries’ international export credit agencies as the worst offenders.

“When you’re in a hole you need to stop digging. That’s why countries and multilateral institutions should immediately stop using scarce public funds to subsidize coal-fired power plants, coal mining and infrastructure that supports coal use and drives climate change,” said Jake Schmidt, International Program Director at NRDC. “These publicly financed dirty energy projects are taking the world in the exact opposite direction from where we need to go to solve the growing climate crisis and protect future generations.”

The report’s release comes as countries around the world are making commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the lead-up to international climate talks later this year in Paris. The talks aim to produce a new agreement that will take significant steps to reduce the global threat of climate change.

In addition, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said that 75 percent of the world’s fossil fuel reserves should stay in the ground in order to meet the goal of holding global warming to a rise of 2 degrees Celsius and avoid catastrophic climate change.

“Under the Rug” says that public coal financing has largely gone unreported and is buried in a host of lesser-known institutions, particularly export credit agencies. Even the governing body, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Export Credit Group, doesn’t have access to full data about what projects are financed and where, the report notes.

To compile the report’s data, the authors used public sources and available industry databases. The public financing cited includes direct loans, guarantees, policy lending and technical assistance, along with coal lending through financial intermediaries. The information will be updated and posted online at:     

The full “Under the Rug” report is available here:

A database on coal financing in the report is here:

A blog by NRDC’s Jake Schmidt on the issue is here:






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