Financial institutions need to blacklist 935 companies investing in coal plants or mining across the world, according to Global Coal Exit List (GCEL) 2020 released Thursday.
Prepared by Germany-based Urgewald and 30 NGOs from across the world, GCEL reveals that despite the climate crisis a great number of companies are continuing to invest in coal.
'We are in a climate emergency and a speedy exit from coal is more urgent than ever. Our database identifies 935 companies the finance industry needs to blacklist if it is serious about fulfilling the Paris goals,” Heffa Schuecking, director of Urgewald said in a statement on the list.
According to the study, since the Paris Climate Agreement was signed in 2015, the world’s installed coal-fired capacity has increased by 137 gigawatts (GW), an amount equal to the operating coal plant fleets of Germany, Russia and Japan combined.
Around 522 GW of new coal-fired capacity are still in the pipeline and 437 of the 935 companies featured in the database are planning either new coal plants, coal mines, or coal transport infrastructure, while less than 25 companies have adopted a coal phase-out date.
'Almost half of the companies listed on the 2020 GCEL are in expansion mode and the data we have collected is a frightening testimony to the coal industry’s refusal to deal with climate reality,' Schuecking pointed out.
The GCEL covers the largest coal plant operators and producers and companies that generate over 20% of their revenues or power generation from coal, and companies that are planning to expand coal mining, coal power, or coal infrastructure.
The database features 935 parent companies as well as over 1,800 subsidiaries and affiliates, whose activities range from coal mining, coal trading and transport to coal power generation and manufacturing of equipment for the coal industry. The companies listed in the GCEL represent 88% of the world’s coal production and 85% of the world’s coal-fired capacity.
- Chinese companies are top coal investors
Currently, almost half of the 522 GW of new, planned coal-fired power capacity worldwide is located in China.
Accordingly, four of the world’s five top coal plant developers are Chinese companies including China Energy with 43 GW, China Datang with 34 GW, China Huaneng with 29 GW and China Huadian with 15 GW, followed by India's National Thermal Power Corporation, which is the world's fifth-largest coal plant developer.
China has also announced that it will become a carbon-neutral economy by 2060, requiring a phase-out of coal in the coming years.
- Coal industry in economic distress and creating conflict
Schuecking stated that wherever the coal industry operates, it is embroiled in conflicts, as communities there are no longer willing to accept the massive land, water grabs, pollution and health impacts associated with the industry.
This has been seen in countries in Greece, Turkey, South Africa, the US, Brazil and other countries where the courts have canceled coal installations.
'They are fighting back in the courts and streets with increasing success,' she said.
The GCEL asserted that the coal industry is in economic distress with a growing number of companies facing corporate restructuring or bankruptcies.
'Coal is a business of the past. The industry has lost its social license to operate and is no longer competitive in today’s energy world,' the study found.
It forecasts that coal-fired generation needs to collapse by 11% per year to keep the 1.5°C Paris climate goal within reach.
'Waiting for coal companies to transition is a recipe for runaway climate change. Time is slipping through our hands. Unless financial institutions speed up their exit from the industry, we will fail the most basic of all climate tests: leaving coal behind,' Schuecking noted.
- 'China should be ally of Turkey for energy transition'
Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe Turkey Director Ozlem Katisoz, stated the list showed the Chinese coal companies’ top position for coal development and said they are interested in coal mining and power plant project development in Turkey.
'It is obvious that China is a strong ally with the financial opportunities it can offer. However, we need China as a sustainable energy partner for Turkey which can speed up a swift and just energy transition beyond coal in Turkey,' she said.
Katisoz also noted that several Turkish companies continue to invest in coal, of which its share in total electricity generation is between 45-65%.
By Nuran Erkul Kaya