Greens urge halt to G7 nations' funding for overseas coal

Coal is loaded onto a truck at the Woestalleen colliery near Middleburg in Mpumalanga province, September 8, 2015. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

BONN, Germany (Reuters) - Environmental groups urged Group of Seven (G7) nations led by Japan and Germany to stop financing coal projects abroad, which they said amounted to $42 billion since 2007.

Japan provided more than half of the total, with $22 billion between 2007 and 2015, a study released on Tuesday by groups including the U.S. Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), WWF and Oil Change International said.

Many rich nations have sharply restricted financing of coal-fired power plants at home in recent years in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But the report said Tokyo was considering a further $10 billion in coming years in projects including Mozambique and Myanmar.

The report said the $42 billion from G7 countries was for coal projects in developing nations in the form of “direct finance, guarantees, technical assistance, and aid for coal power, coal mining, and related projects.”

The study, released before a G7 summit in Japan this week, said Germany was second behind Japan on $9 billion, ahead of the United States ($5 billion), France ($2.5 billion), Italy ($2 billion), Britain ($1 billion) and Canada (below $1 billion).

South Africa, India and the Philippines were the main recipients of finance.

Almost 200 nations agreed at a summit in Paris in December to shift the world economy towards cleaner energies from fossil fuels in coming decades. Governments are meeting in Bonn this week to start planning detailed rules.

Last November, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) agreed to restrict subsidies used to export technology for coal-fired power plants. From now on, funds will only go to the most efficient plants.

$42 billion “is probably an under-estimate,” NRDC’s Jake Schmidt told a news conference in Bonn, adding it was an “inconsistent use of scarce public dollars” to invest in coal rather than cleaner energies such as wind or solar power.

Reporting by Alister Doyle; Editing by Alexander Smith