Victory: China Agrees to “Strictly Limit” Public Finance for High-Carbon Projects

For Immediate Release
September 25, 2015

For further information, contact: Daphne Wysham 202-510-3541 (c); daphne@sustainable-economy.org
The Sustainable Energy and Economy Network declared a major victory on September 25, 2015, when China, one of the largest financiers of infrastructure projects worldwide, agreed to “strictly limit” the amount of public financing that it provides toward high-carbon projects. The move is in accord with a 2013 commitment by the United States Treasury Department to cease public financing for new coal-fired power plants, which followed an almost two decade-long battle by civil society groups to shift public financing away from fossil fuels.
“There is much work remaining to be done in holding these countries and public financial institutions accountable to these commitments and pushing them further–to get out of subsidized fossil fuel finance altogether,” said Daphne Wysham, director of the Sustainable Energy & Economy Network (SEEN). “But today, another domino falls as China joins numerous other nations and publicly financed institutions in agreeing to limit its ‘high-carbon’ financing.”

In a series of path breaking reports beginning in 1996, SEEN exposed the disproportionate investment in fossil fuels that was being made in developing countries, including China, by international financial institutions, such as the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the European Development Bank and export credit agencies, such as U.S. Export-Import Bank. SEEN drew attention to the true beneficiaries of this investment: Not the poorest, as these institutions claimed, but, often, powerful corporations based in the richest countries. SEEN advocated for a shift by these lending institutions from support for fossil fuels and toward investments in clean, renewable energy, with a focus on meeting the energy needs of the poorest. China is now one of the leading investors, both at home and abroad, in infrastructure via the China Development Bank and via the newly formed New Development Bank.

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After 17 years of activism by our members, staff, and partners, we began to see some major breakthroughs when President Barack Obama called on the World Bank to get out of coal-fired power. Shortly after Obama’s call, the President of the World Bank, Dr. Jim Kim, agreed that it needed to stop financing most forms of coal-fired power; other public banks soon began to make similar pledges.

China now joins the following countries that have agreed to end their public financial support for coal-fired power: Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, France, Iceland, the United Kingdom, and the U.S.

The following publicly held banks have agreed to limit their investments in coal-fired power: The World Bank, the European Investment Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development,  the U.S. Export-Import Bank, U.K.’s ECGD, and France’s COFACE.

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About SEEN:  Founded as a project of the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Policy Studies in 1996, and now a project of the Center for Sustainable Economy, the Sustainable Energy and Economy Network (SEEN) works in partnership with people regionally, nationally, and globally with a focus on climate justice and, specifically, on ending the fossil fuel age and ushering in the age of clean energy and a sustainable economy for generations to come.

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