Over the last few days, we’ve seen 3 major Japanese financial institutions take steps towards ending fossil fuel finance.

The dominos are falling

Mizuho Financial Group announced last April 15 that it would stop new investments and loans to coal power plants. Mizuho declared that it would gradually cut its outstanding balance of loans for coal power projects from 300 billion yen to zero by the year 2050. This is the first Asian mega bank to indicate firm dates and monetary figures to divest from coal.

The following day, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group (SMBC Group) announced its new policy on coal financing declaring that it will not provide support for newly planned coal-fired power plant projects. It is a step forward. SMBC has expanded the scope of its policy to include ‘coal mining’ and ‘oil and gas’ (tar sand, shale oil and shale gas, oil and gas mining in the Arctic, and oil and gas pipelines), pointing out the risks of stranded assets.

But there are loopholes in these revised coal policies and these are not enough to resolve the climate crisis – they’re not on par with what the Paris Agreement requires to limit warming to 1.5°C. There’s still a lot to be done.

On April 22nd, Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) declared in an interview that it “will no longer accept loan applications for coal-fired power generation projects.” This is a crucial turning point in the global transition to renewable energy as JBIC is one of the powerhouses of coal energy development in Asia. Their move sends a powerful signal that the era of coal power is over. 

Japan must immediately phase out coal power, including all existing coal power plants, by 2030. By 2050, emissions from fossil fuels—not just coal, but also natural gas and oil—must have reduced to net-zero.

As the impacts of the climate crisis make themselves felt even more frequently and harshly, we should not stop our work to transition towards 100% renewable energy. While results will not come overnight, we’re confident that No Coal Japan coalition’s campaigning efforts are moving us closer to ending all fossil finance with each new step taken.

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