Japan and China lent more than $35 billion to finance coal power in the eight years through the end of 2014, according to environmental groups in a study that urged countries to stop supporting the fuel.
Japan provided more than $20 billion, followed by $15 billion from China, according to the joint study by the Natural Resources Defense Council, Oil Change International and the World Wide Fund for Nature.
South Korea and Germany each provided $7 billion, trailed by the U.S. with $4 billion. The top five countries accounted for more than 80 percent of the coal financing from the countries reviewed by the groups.
“This government financing for coal — largely in the form of export support, but also as development aid and general finance — is perpetuating coal use and exacerbating climate change,” the groups said in the report. “It needs to stop, immediately.”
Japan Bank for International Cooperation was identified as the top provider of financing, followed by the World Bank and the Export-Import Bank of China, according to the report.
“Our support is in line with the Japanese government’s policy to help build power plants of higher efficiency taking into account the energy situations of each country,” Junsuke Arita, a spokesman for JBIC, said by phone.
The research, which examined information about public finance for coal in member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development as well as China and Russia, largely focused on overseas financing, but also included domestic projects financed by export credit agencies.
No export financing went to low-income countries in need of access to energy supplies, according to the report. Recipients included high-income countries like Australia and Chile.
“This rebuts the claim of some OECD governments that their export finance support for coal benefits energy access for the poor.”
However, the groups also noted a few bright spots.
Some multilateral development banks and national governments began adopting restrictions on international public financing of coal in 2013 to tackle climate change. Among them are the World Bank Group, the European Investment Bank, as well as the governments of the U.S. and France, the report said.
A drop in financing last year likely reflected commitments to stop investing in coal overseas by some countries and institutions, according to the report.