One of the world’s leading financial services providers, Deutsche Bank, has finished January by announcing plans to halt investment of all new coal financing, and to scale back existing exposure to the thermal coal mining sector.
The global coal sector has not been having things all its own way as of late. In the past few weeks alone we have seen that China intends to suspend 104 under-construction & planned coal power projects; the European shift away from coal towards natural gas resulted in a drop in power emissions of 4.5%; and predictions that the US coal industry will continue its already historic decline through 2017.
Of the three of those announcements, the China one holds the most weight — as we had already guessed the other two. Specifically, China’s National Energy Administration announced earlier in January that it would suspend 104 coal projects in various stages of completion, totaling 120 gigawatts (GW) of coal which is suddenly off the board. This followed news in October of 2016 that China had suspended 30 coal power projects in various stages of completion, totaling 17 GW.
And of course, all of this runs parallel to the global fossil fuel divestment movement which, as of the latest figures from 350.org’s global divestment movement, Fossil Free, has seen a total of 695 institutions and 58,000 individuals divest a total of $5.44 trillion in approximate value.
So we should really expect to see more announcements like the one published this week by Deutsche Bank, which announced on Tuesday its intention to halt “new financing for greenfield thermal coal mining and new coal-fired power plant construction” and “gradually reduce its existing exposure to the thermal coal mining sector.”
In a short update on its website, the global financial services provider explained:
“By signing the Paris Pledge for Action alongside over 400 private and public organizations, the bank has welcomed the universal climate agreement made at the 2015 Climate Summit in Paris. This emphasizes the bank’s commitment to protect the climate and to contribute to the overall targets set by the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels.”
Deutsche Bank is one of a number of financial institutions around the world which are slowly but surely reducing their exposure to fossil fuel risk. Though some argue that continued involvement in the sector allows for influence over coal companies’ actions, as we progress further into the global energy transition, coal is simply becoming less of a financial benefit, and increasingly a scarier proposition for investors — and investors do not traditionally like scary.
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