climate change energy

Time to stop funding coal

Last month we celebrated Britain’s plan to phase out coal power over by 2025, a landmark decision for cleaner energy and cleaner air. Actually burning coal in our power stations is not the only way that we prop up the age of coal however. Another big one is through funding for coal mining projects and new coal power stations. And unfortunately, British banks have a pretty dirty record. Here’s a map of the biggest banks still funding coal, taken from FoE and Heinrich Boll Foundation’s Coal Atlas:


Another way that we support coal is through export credit. If a British company gets a big contract to build a coal power station, for example, they may get export credit support to help them reduce the risk. Between 2012 and 2014 Britain disbursed £1.7 billion in loans to fossil fuel projects of one kind or another, including coal.

Deciding to call time on our own coal power plants is one step towards ending our involvement in coal. Ending export credit support is another, and Christian Aid have campaigned on this recently. Trickier still is to get our banks to stop funding coal around the world, both power station construction and mining. If you have an account with one of those banks mentioned, move your money and tell them why. You can also use the CoalBanks website to call them to change their policy.


  1. I felt this is relevant to the principle in your article (from George Monbiot yesterday):

    ‘The UK is now the only G7 nation substantially to increase its subsidies for fossil fuels: this year, George Osborne granted a further £1.7 billion of tax breaks for extracting oil and gas from the North Sea. Cameron has imposed, through the Infrastructure Act 2015, a legal obligation on the government to “maximise economic recovery” of the UK’s oil and gas. As it also has a legal obligation (through the Climate Change Act 2008) to minimise the burning of oil and g’as, this creates something of a quandary. But no one in the government appears to care.

    1. Yes, the legal obligation to maximise recovery is pretty crazy. It’s an attempt to hobble future governments from rowing back support for the North Sea, which is undemocratic as well as environmentally illiterate.

      1. Jeremy you say ‘undemocratic’ and illiterate’. To comment on both – I don’t think what we have is anything like a good democracy (not that I know how to create a good one,(I know some who think they can!), & despite it being good in relative terms), that’s why they can behave undemocratically and we can do little about it. Also, I do not think they are actually environmentally ‘illiterate’ – they/& we are surely puppets to the mighty powerful who can mostly, if not always, pull the strings. It is a sad fact and a sad state of affairs, and, only ‘good’ in relative terms. Try as we do against the said ‘mighty’ ones, we don’t have ‘good’ answers for ‘good’ results as far as economics and politics are concerned. (‘Money makes the world go around, the world go around’). Sorry to put dampers on, but, I believe it to be reality. Still enjoy reading you and your replies to me though.

        1. Possibly, though I don’t like to refer to politicians as puppets. It implies they have no will of their own, and therefore no responsibility. They’re not that powerless. They choose to collude or resist any other powers, whatever those might be.

          I agree that we don’t have a good democracy, but we know dozens of different ways of making it better, reform of the Lords and the electoral system being the biggest. Those are all long campaigns, but as I’ve written about before, we can and do make progress. It’s by no means a lost cause!

          1. Yes Jeremy, but for all those changes in your earlier post, (some of which I do question), still we see the gap between rich and poor widening (generally) and others situations worsening.

            I wouldn’t ask you to debate with me the benefits, or otherwise, of some of your points, but, I do wonder why there is not more action on reforming the Lords and electoral system from some NGO’s and all those wanting it? Any reasons you can give would be appreciated.

            1. There are a whole bunch of reasons why people don’t really engage in the electoral system. The main one is that it’s technical and boring. It’s difficult to get people to care.

              Sure, some things are getting worse. Other things are getting better, such as the crime figures or Britain’s aid promises. Some bad things are easily exaggerated and aren’t nearly as bad as we think. Inequality, as you hint at, is not necessarily getting worse in Britain. A mixed picture, but certainly not a disaster. Unfortunately we don’t get the positive trends in the news.

              Case in point – you and I know that 800,000 people joined the climate marches last week around the world. And what did the papers focus on the following day? The 200 people who fought the police at the end of the climate march in Paris, and who weren’t even connected to the march anyway. Bad news sells more papers!

  2. There is a whiff of double standards here. You said previously you just wanted community energy firms to be treated as any other business, and denounced the chancellor for singling them out, but then decry export credits for coal, which are available to most businesses. So wrong to single out community energy, right to single out coal?

    Are you only going to make level playing field arguments when they support what you like?

    1. Nonsense, you know what this website is about by now. I want a stable climate, which means I’m shamelessly in favour of certain technologies.

      What do you want, besides an argument?

      1. I value logical consistency. I feel that if you are arguing for something you should be honest about your motivations. You pull in justifications that suit the particular discussion then next time swivel to an opposite one. Hence here you went from “I only want a level playing field, not special treatment” to “no level playing field, special treatment please.”

        Now that you are in favour of certain technologies is fine, and can be argued on its merits or otherwise, but suggests you weren’t being totally straight over your reasons for upset about the community energy subsidy cuts.

        I understand that you are a campaigner rather than an expert and the arguments you put forward are to justify ends but when you flit between contradictory arguments so quickly you can’t expect a free pass.

        1. Here’s my standard: in an age of climate change, renewable energy is better than coal.

          If something disadvantages renewable energy, I’m opposed to that. If it promotes it, I’m in favour.

          I see no inconsistency.

          1. What you want is consistent. The arguments you use to promote it vary and are often contradictory and hence some come across as inauthentic. Cognitive dissonance perhaps.

            1. Of course the arguments are different. Situations are different. Thoughtlessness would be the opposite – applying an inflexible dogma to every problem regardless of circumstances.

  3. I appreciate the points you make and I realise you won’t want to get stuck on mine, but, I really meant that there are many who know we need reform of the Lords and the electoral system.(someone again speaking strongly about it on Radio 4 today), You refer to this being ‘the biggest’ way to make our democracy better. Those who recognise this must surely see it is fundamental to everything else. This is why I am still puzzled that the NGO’s and similar have not found a way to allow the many who already agree, (along with those who may listen & agree), to act together in some way. It is absolutely fundamental and I’ve seen nothing about it from the organisations who have ability to inform, spread the word, and unite.

    1. That’s true, but I’m not sure which NGOs it would be. Very few are concerned with political reform specifically. Other big potential allies, such as the unions or business groups, are on one side or the other and don’t want reform. Since there’s no clamour from ordinary voters, it’s safe to ignore it most of the time.

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