Update: 1 Nov, 2019 – Over 22,000 signatures have been collected from 49 countries and submitted today to Japan’s major banking groups Mitsubishi UFJ, Mizuho, Sumitomo Mitsui and Sumitomo Mitsui Trust. The delivery coincides with the Mekong-Japan Summit being held today, ahead of the 35th Annual ASEAN Summit. Japan’s banks are facing heightened reputational risks as stakeholders worldwide pressurize them to stop funding coal and align their business with the Paris Agreement.
Contact: Aanchal Mehta Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
For Immediate Release
30 OCT, 2019 – 350.org and 7 partner NGOs launched a petition calling on Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Mizuho Financial Group, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group and Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank to stop funding new coal plants and to desist from financing Vung Ang 2, a coal-fired power plant in Central Vietnam. The petition demonstrates popular and wide-spread concern on the fact that the largest financial institutions in Japan continue to fund coal development around the world, putting at risk our chances of keeping global heating below the Paris goal of 1.5 degrees celsius and ensuring a liveable planet.
Shin Furuno, Senior Regional Campaigner at 350.org said,
“The theme of this year’s 35th Annual ASEAN Summit, to be held in Bangkok from 2-4th November, is Advancing Partnership for Sustainability. There can be no greater sustainability challenge than addressing the climate crisis and this means no less than a rapid transition to a zero carbon economy. Ironically, one of the most advanced economies in Asia, Japan, stubbornly supports new coal fired power plant developments in Southeast Asia by promoting its so-called “clean coal” technologies while Japan’s biggest banks back up this industrial strategy.”
One of these plants is Vung Ang 2, a planned US$ 2.2 billion 1200MW coal-fired power station in Kỳ Lợi commune, Kỳ Anh district, Hà Tĩnh province in Central Vietnam, being developed by One Energy Ltd., a joint venture between Diamond Generating Asia – a Mitsubishi Corporation subsidiary – and China Light and Power. Vung Ang 2 is reportedly being considered for funding by Japan’s Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG), Mizuho Financial Group, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group and Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank (SMTB), alongside the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC). Singapore’s DBS is also listed as a potential lender.
This is despite the fact that all four Japanese commercial banks listed above recently signed on to the UN Principles for Responsible Banking (PRB) on 22 September, which commit signatory banks to “align their business strategy with the SDGs and the Paris Climate Agreement”. A decision to fund a new coal plant barely more than one month after this commitment would mean that these banks signing on the PRBs was really little more than greenwashing. Furthermore, MUFG – Japan’s largest bank and 8th biggest bank in the world, alongside SMTB, considered a sustainability leader in Japan’s banking sector, have both adopted credit policies with explicit commitments to end financing to coal-fired power plants in principle.
A decision on financing for the new plant is expected soon, making it necessary to act urgently. The collected signatures will be delivered on 1 November 2019 at the Japan-Mekong summit which will be held immediately prior to the ASEAN Summit.
As the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned recently, new energy supply in the form of the most carbon polluting energy source – coal – can no longer be justified when climate disasters are increasing in their frequency and intensity and leading to loss of life throughout the world. However, plans for new coal plants abound in Asia, with the biggest growth seen in Southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines – where rapid economic development comes with a commensurate demand for new energy sources.
The Vung Ang 2 plant is mired in significant health and human rights concerns, as nearby residents are already suffering from air, water and environmental pollution from existing projects near their neighborhoods, without evidence of adequate consultation by project proponents.
350.org Japan campaigner, Eri Watanabe said, “The science tells us that we cannot build any more coal, gas or oil plants to preserve a habitable planet and keep global heating below 1.5 degrees celsius. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, Mizuho Financial Group and Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank, the banks we entrust our money with, are complicit in accelerating the climate crisis by supporting the development of new coal-fired power plants worldwide. Japan’s banks should live up to their international commitments to align their business with the Paris Agreement and lead Asia toward a 100% renewable energy future by investing in sustainable energy sources instead of out-dated coal and fossil fuels.”
The financing decision on Vung Ang 2 coal plant will be a litmus test on whether Japan’s banks are serious about addressing the climate crisis and are willing to forego short-term gains for sustainable development that protects lives and a healthy environment for future generations.
Notes to Editors
Link to Petition take action page: