UPDATE 1-Kansai Electric faces shareholder call for coal exit

(Adds comment from Kansai Electric)

TOKYO, April 27 (Reuters) - Kansai Electric Power, Japan’s second-biggest provider of electricity sourced from fossil fuels, is being targeted by a shareholder resolution aimed at pushing the utility to cut coal use, as governments and companies move towards decarbonisation.

The Kyoto City government will on Wednesday submit a shareholder proposal to Kansai Electric to be voted on at its annual shareholders meeting in June, calling on it to stop building new coal plants and to use carbon capture and storage for its existing coal plants, a city official told Reuters.

Activist shareholders are increasingly turning their attention to Japanese companies, using tactics that were once rare and easily rebuffed but have helped to force corporate and financial change in the United States and Europe.

“We want Kansai Electric to quickly proceed with the decarbonisation of its power generation,” Kiyoshi Takeuchi, a director in Kyoto City’s environmental policy department, told Reuters by phone on Tuesday.

The city, which owns a stake of just under 0.5% in Kansai Electric, gave its name to the world’s first major attempt to cut carbon emissions, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

“We have not confirmed the proposal but, upon receipt, we will review its contents,” a Kansai Electric spokesman said.

Kansai Electric on Tuesday said it was scrapping plans to build a 1.3 gigawatt coal power plant in northern Japan with Marubeni Corp.

Japan’s government last week nearly doubled its target for cutting atmosphere-warming carbon emissions by 2030 to 46% as it aims to reach carbon neutrality by 2050.

Toyota Motor Corp, Japan’s biggest automaker, also last week signalled a shift in its climate change stance and plans to review its lobbying after facing increased activist and investor pressure.

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Japan’s biggest bank, and Sumitomo Corp, one of the country’s largest trading houses, are also facing climate resolutions at their annual shareholder meetings this year.

Carbon capture and storage have not been widely implemented on a commercial scale on coal power plants due to high costs.

Reporting by Aaron Sheldrick, editing by Ed Osmond and Jason Neely