When Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe traveled to Europe and North America in late April, he was hoping to spread goodwill and build support for his leadership of the G20 Summit next month.
But what he found in Washington, DC and Ottawa was growing opposition to Japan’s support for coal.
Campaigners at Friends of the Earth US and Oil Change International organized a visual action outside the White House as Prime Minister Abe met with President Trump to highlight that Japan’s continued financing for fossil fuels is out of step with the urgency of the climate crisis.
Japan is one of the very few countries still providing government-backed finance for coal-fired power around the world. Only weeks ago, the Japan Bank for International Cooperation approved a $1.2 billion loan for the dirty Van Phong 1 Coal Project in Vietnam, locking in decades of emissions.
As Prime Minister Abe traveled north to Canada, he was greeted with a critical opinion piece in the National Observer by former Canadian bank executive Don Roberts.
Roberts noted that Japan’s coal finance runs against the growing and quickening tide of global financial institutions that have announced restrictions on coal finance. He notes: “since January 2018, every two weeks a bank or insurer has announced a new, more stringent policy on coal.”
In January, Canada’s own export credit agency announced a new policy excluding finance for coal plants and thermal coal.
Prime Minister Abe has an opportunity to demonstrate real climate leadership and announce an end to coal finance when the international spotlight shines on Japan as it hosts the G20 Summit next month and the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
Our planet needs Prime Minister Abe to step up to the plate.