Green Cities

G7 Countries Undermine Paris Climate Deal with Overseas Coal Investments

At the Paris climate conference (COP21) in December 2015, 175 nations came together and agreed to sign a legally-binding agreement aiming to implement policies mitigating global warming and climate change. The key element of this agreement was to reduce global emissions through increased investments in clean energy resources and technology.

Despite these strong commitments, some countries are continuing to finance international coal projects using scarce public resources. The Natural Resources Defense Council, in partnership with World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Oil Change International (OCI), Kiko Network, Japan Center for a Sustainable Environment and Society (JACSES), and Friends of the Earth Japan released a new report entitled, Swept Under the Rug: How G7 Nations Conceal Public Financing for Coal Around the World. The report outlined how all Group of Seven (G7) countries especially, Japan, Italy, and Germany, are actively investing billions of dollars to support coal projects in developing countries. Between the years 2007 and 2015, G7 countries have spent more than $42 billion of public finance for coal projects. The report also outlined upcoming projects, worth over $10 billion, that some G7 countries, such as Japan, are still considering financing.

The G7’s overseas coal investment projects are significantly undermining the Paris climate deal’s goal of steering global greenhouse emissions in a downward direction. If G7 nations continue to build and invest in international fossil fuel projects, such as coal, recipient nations will inevitably be locked into decades of fossil fuel use. The environmental and health impacts of these investments are disastrous for both the recipient nation and the world at large. Coal plants are one of the top sources of carbon dioxide emissions, and one of the primary causes of global warming. According to the report, between 2007-2015, 100 million metric tons of carbon pollution were released every year from the coal-fired power plants financed by the G7 countries. If the international community aims to combat climate change and remain within carbon budget, then strong commitments to phase out fossil fuel use by mid-century must be made by politicians around the world. Rather than investing scarce public resources in coal projects, governments must shift financing towards clean energy infrastructure and technology.

Individuals may take action, and call on world leaders to divest from fossil fuel investments by joining the ‘Fossil Free’ and ‘Stop Funding Fossils’ movements online.