Net-zero commitments aren’t worth the paper they’re written on. This is one of the main findings of groundbreaking NGO research which reveals the names of the financiers and investors propping up the entire global coal industry – the 935 companies on the Global Coal Exit List (GCEL).
The research, published by Urgewald, Reclaim Finance, Rainforest Action Network, 350.org Japan and 25 further NGO partners, shows that even some of the financial institutions which committed to go net–zero by 2050, or to align with the Paris Agreement climate targets, still have a long way to go when it comes to their stance on coal.
Indeed, almost half of the asset owners which signed on the Net Zero Asset Owner Alliance have no or very poor coal policies, as can be seen in the Coal Policy Tool. CalPERS, the Californian pension fund, not only has a poor coal policy only covering coal mining pure players, but it features in the “Dirty Thirty” list of the top 30 biggest global investors in the companies listed on the Global Coal Exit List with US$ 7 989 million invested.
The picture is even darker on the asset management side. Only a third of the investors which signed onto the Net Zero Asset Managers initiative have any kind of coal policy. Wellington Management and Legal & General Invesment Management, two of the signatories, have no public coal policy at all and are also in the “Dirty Thirty” list mentioned above, with respectively US$ 7 580 million and US$ 7 155 million invested at the group level in GCEL companies.
On the banking side, many global banks have signed onto the Collective Commitment for Climate Action, but many of them also have poor coal policies. The difference regarding banks lies in the fact that the three big French banks – BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole and Société Générale, which also feature among the top 30 lenders to GCEL companies – have all adopted in the past few months advanced coal policies which should have a significant impact on their coal portfolio in the coming months and years.
What is striking is that the vast majority of the signatories to these three initiatives have absolutely no exclusion of any coal developers, those companies still planning to expand the coal industry. These investors and bank platforms bear a high responsibility in securing climate action from their members. They should quickly secure the adoption of strong coal exit policy from their members, or risk shredding their credibility as science-based and Paris-alignment initiatives