United Kingdom – Banks ‘at the forefront of coal financing’

Supposed to make a gesture for the climate, the five largest banking establishments in London are supporting companies active in the coal industry, denounces an NGO.

Barclays is part, according to the NGO Reclaim Finance, of the “terrible trio” “which represents more than 94% of the financing of coal from British banks”.


The big British banks, despite their announcements in favor of carbon neutrality, are at the “forefront of financing oil, coal and other hydrocarbons,” says an NGO report on Tuesday. Reclaim Finance.

“Despite the announcements made with vigor, the five main British banks analyzed” in the report “provided $ 56 billion (51.22 billion francs) to help companies on the global coal exit list between October 2018 and October 2020, ”says the report.

Barclays defends itself

Criticizing the “terrible trio” of Barclays, HSBC and Santander, “which together account for more than 94% of coal funding from British banks”, the study denounces “massive support from major British investors and banks to companies that increase the use of coal-generated energy ”.

Asked by AFP, Barclays, ranked in the five largest global coal financiers by Reclaim Finance, says it has “committed, since 2019, not to provide financing for construction projects or major expansion of power plants coal or the development of thermal coal mines all over the world ”.

No project funded “since 2018”

HSBC is accused of supplying more than $ 15 billion to coal companies in two years. The banking giant assures that “our policies prohibit the financing of new thermal coal mines (that is to say intended for energy, not the steel industry) and of customers dependent on coal-fired energy” and that “we have no not funded projects for new coal-fired power plants since 2018 ”.

“We will publish, by the end of 2021, a plan to exit the financing of any coal-fired power station by 2030 in the European Union and the OECD and by 2040 in other markets”, explains the bank. , specifying that it wants to help “customers to gradually decarbonize”.

Standard Chartered, for its part, is “the biggest financier of coal factories”, also points out Reclaim Finance, an association close to Friends of the Earth. These findings contrast with the British government’s commitments to carbon neutrality, which is preparing to host COP-26.

The French example

While the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, this month launched the UK center for investment and green finance, the report points out that “since then, the attitude of UK banks and asset managers, in the first rank of which Schroder’s, contrasts with their French counterparts ”. “Our analysis finds that 19 French financial institutions have robust coal policies, while none in the UK”.

“Only one British financial institution (M&G) plans to exclude companies which build mines and coal factories” from their investments, “against 26 in France”, insists the report, which denounces a hypocrisy “close to the farce when one considers the UK to be a co-founder and co-chair of the Post-Coal Energy Alliance ”.

“Defective” policy

Among the City’s other large asset managers, Legal & General is also implicated as well as Lloyd’s insurance market, whose coal policy is “deeply flawed”.

The UK is at the forefront of wind power and Tory Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged a “green revolution” for his country, but he has been criticized for a budget that is grossly lacking in ambition.


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