The financiers and investors behind the global coal industry have been exposed by the Global Coal Exit List (GCEL), published by Urgewald, Reclaim Finance, 350.org Japan and 25 other NGO partners.
The research shows that commercial banks channeled over $1.5 trillion to the coal industry between January 2019 and November 2021.
Financial institutions from the US, China, Japan, India, Canada and the UK are responsible for over 80% of coal financing and investment.
The research displays all corporate lending and underwriting for the 1,032 companies on the GCEL; their activities range from coal mining, trading and transport to the conversion of coal to liquids, the operation of coal-fired power stations and the manufacturing of equipment for new coal plants.
‘It’s long been known that the coal industry is the number one driver of our planet’s rising temperature. But who is providing the loans, the underwriting services and the investments that allow these companies to keep on operating? Our research answers this question.
‘Banks like to argue that they want to help their coal clients transition, but the reality is that almost none of these companies are transitioning. And they have little incentive to do so as long as bankers continue writing them blank checks.’
Head of financial research at Urgewald
Top lenders to the coal industry
Between January 2019 and November 2021, 376 commercial banks provided $363 billion in loans to the coal industry, but just 12 banks accounted for 48% of total lending to companies on the GCEL.
The top five lenders in this ‘dirty dozen’ ranking are the three Japanese banks Mizuho Financial, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial and SMBC Group, Barclays from the UK and Citigroup from the US.
Ironically, 10 of the top 12 lenders to the coal industry (including the five banks mentioned above) are members of the Net Zero Banking Alliance.
‘At the time when it counts most – today – most of these banks are still channeling billions of dollars to the coal industry. It is not enough to make net zero promises for the distant future and only inch towards them reluctantly. The risk of stranded assets and more importantly, the risk of the climate crisis, is too great.’
350.org Japan finance campaigner
Top underwriters to the coal industry
Between January 2019 and November 2021, 484 commercial banks channeled $1.2 trillion to companies on the Global Coal Exit List through underwriting.
12 banks account for 39% of total underwriting for the coal industry since 2019. The world’s top 10 underwriters of coal are all Chinese institutions.
The three institutions at the top of the NGOs’ ‘dirty dozen’ ranking are the Industrial Commercial Bank of China, the China International Trust and Investment Corporation and the Shanghai Pudong Development Bank.