BOC panned over coal cash backing

Bank of China (3988), a top global investor in coal-power plants, must end the financing of such projects outside the mainland and support clean and renewable energy instead, an alliance of 35 non-governmental organizations said yesterday.

The comments, made in an open letter to state-controlled BOC’s chairman, Liu Liange, and signed by groups from 13 countries in Asia, Africa and Europe, add to growing criticism of China for financing coal-fired power stations overseas, especially as part of its Belt and Road Initiative.

While China has said that it would respect the right of local communities to decide what sort of energy they needed, the letter, which has been signed by organizations from several Belt and Road countries, indicates growing opposition to coal even in developing nations.

Bank of China’s total overseas financing of coal-based power projects since the Paris climate agreement in 2015 stands at more than US$35 billion (HK$273 billion), the most by any investor globally, and is “out of step with China’s climate change ambition,” they said in the letter.

They said more than 130 financial institutions have already decided to restrict fossil fuel investments and urged the bank to follow suit.

Its president, Liu Jin, said at the end of August the bank would gradually reduce the share of total credit extended to coal projects in 2021-2025.

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