UK banks are second biggest coal lenders after American banks

UK banks lend more money for coal mining than banks from any other country except the USA, according to a new report released today. The report from campaign groups including BankTrack and the World Development Movement urges governments meeting for the UN climate talks in Warsaw to stem the flow of finance to coal, the single greatest source of CO2 emissions endangering the climate.

RBS is the eighth biggest coal financer in the world.

UK banks are the biggest European financers of coal, while four UK banks feature in the global top 20 lending money and underwriting bonds and shares for coal mining companies worldwide. RBS ranks at number eight in the world, Barclays number 12, HSBC number 15 and Standard Chartered number 18.  The three banks at top of the list are Citi, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America.

Banks from only three countries - the US, UK and China – collectively account for 57 per cent of coal mining finance.

The Indonesian coal sector, the fastest growing coal sector in the world, receives more money in loans from UK banks than those from any other country, and Standard Chartered lends more for Indonesian coal mining than any other bank.

Since 2000, global coal production has grown by 70 per cent and has now reached a staggering 7.9 billion tons annually.

Nick Dearden, director of the World Development Movement, said today:

Coal is killing the climate, and banks are fuelling the boom. The world’s poorest people will be worst affected by climate change, and they are also very often the people who bear the brunt of coal mining on their land. Government leaders meeting in Warsaw may reaffirm their commitment to limiting global temperature rises to two degrees, but this is a fantasy as long as banks like RBS pour billions of pounds into coal. Governments have to tackle the finance sector if we are to have any hope of preventing runaway climate change.

Heffa Schücking, one of the report’s authors and director of German campaign group Urgewald, said today:

It’s mind-boggling to see that less than two dozen banks from a handful of countries are putting us on a highway to hell when it comes to climate change. Big banks already showed that they can mess up the real economy. Now we’re seeing that they can also push our climate over the brink.

Read the report ‘Banking on Coal’

Contact the World Development Movement's press office


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