FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: 

Nicole Rodel, nicole@priceofoil.org  

Shaye Skiff, kskiff@foe.org

 

Handful of governments block clean energy transition with billions in international finance for fossil fuels 

New research shows Japan, Korea, and US among worst fossil fuel financiers

  • New report shows that between 2020 and 2022, G20 governments and the multilateral development banks (MDBs) provided $142 billion in international public finance for fossil fuels, almost 1.4 times their support for clean energy in the same period ($104 billion).  
  • The top fossil fuel financiers were Canada ($10.9 billion per year), Korea ($10 billion per year), and Japan ($6.9 billion per year). 
  • 71% ($101 billion) of the $142 billion in fossil fuel spending will end in the next few years if governments fully uphold recent commitments including through the Clean Energy Transition Partnership (CETP) and G7. Most signatories are already implementing these pledges, but the United States and Japan in particular are backsliding. 
  • Just 8% of all G20 and MDB international finance for energy went to low-income countries. Of that, almost three-quarters were for fossil fuels. While the finance delivered virtually no energy access for communities in need, this argument is frequently used to justify continued fossil fuel finance.

9 April 2024 – Despite the biggest increase in G20 and Multilateral Development Bank (MDB) international finance for clean energy in 2022, a report published today reveals a handful of bad actors are blocking a just transition to renewable energy with outsized financial support for fossil fuels. 

The new report, Public Enemies: Assessing MDB and G20 international finance institutions’ energy finance by Oil Change International and Friends of the Earth United States, and endorsed by 23 other civil society organizations [1], highlights an alarming trend in international energy finance. G20 and MDB international public finance for energy between 2020 and 2022 poured fuel on the fire by contributing a staggering $142 billion towards fossil fuels, while only $104 billion supported clean energy projects. The report has been released alongside updated energy finance data on energyfinance.org

To limit warming to 1.5°C in line with international climate agreements, 60% of already-developed fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground. In light of these limits, the IEA has sent a clear message that there should not be any new oil and gas field or LNG investments – public or private – beyond what was already committed as of 2021. 

The findings reveal that between 2020 and 2022 the wealthiest G20 nations are the primary culprits behind continued investments in fossil fuels, with Canada, Korea, and Japan as the worst offenders. 

  • Canada: As of the end of 2022, Canada fulfilled their commitment to the Clean Energy Transition Partnership (CETP) to end international finance for fossil fuels, and is under pressure to meet a separate pledge to end their much larger domestic ECA fossil fuel finance in 2024. 
  • Japan: Despite being a signatory to the near identical G7 commitment to phase out international public finance for fossil fuels, Japan has yet to take steps to put commitments into action. Loopholes in Japan’s policy continue to enable fossil fuel financing, further exacerbating the climate crisis. 
  • Korea: Korea is the only major fossil financier that has yet to put in place any policies to end its oil and gas support. 

The report also highlights where there is momentum to shift public finance out of fossil fuels. It shows that coal exclusion policies have worked to nearly eliminate all international public finance for coal. Seven G20 countries are also signatories to the CETP, and pledged to end their international public finance for fossil fuels by the end of 2022 and prioritise support fully towards the clean energy transition. While many signatories have followed through on their commitment, a few CETP signatories are undermining this progress, including the United States, Italy, and Germany, by continuing to provide billions of dollars to fossil fuel projects well past the end of 2022 deadline. If countries honor their existing commitments to end not only coal finance but also oil and gas finance, including their CETP commitment to negotiate an oil and gas ban at the OECD, it will shift $33.5 billion annually out of fossil fuels. 

Claire O’Manique, Public Finance Analyst at Oil Change International, said: 

“While rich countries continue to drag their feet and claim they can’t afford to fund a globally just energy transition, countries like Canada, Korea, Japan, and the US appear to have no shortage of public funds for climate-wrecking fossil fuels. We must continue to hold wealthy countries accountable for their role in funding the climate crisis, and demand they move first and fastest on a fossil fuel phaseout, to stop funding fossil fuels, and that they pay their fair share of a globally just transition, loss and damage and adaptation finance.” 

Kate DeAngelis, Senior International Finance Program Manager at Friend of the Earth United States, said

“While international public finance could be a catalyst for the just energy transition, government leaders are failing to use it to deliver clean energy solutions where they are most needed. As this report highlights less than 10% of the G20 and major multilateral development bank financing is even reaching low-income countries where energy access needs are greatest. Even worse, a shocking three quarters of that finance is being channeled to climate-wrecking fossil fuel projects that deliver virtually no energy access to communities, and instead, lock in more pollution, climate-wrecking emissions, and devastation.”

Peter Bosip, executive director of the Centre for Environmental Law & Community Rights (CELCOR) said: 

“International public finance streamed into Papua New Guinea over a decade ago to fund a disastrous liquefied natural gas project. Despite the human rights abuses and environmental destruction, these same institutions are set to support a related gas project that is likely to have similarly deleterious effects. This report demonstrates that Papua New Guinea is not alone – international public finance is still providing billions every year for fossil fuels. It is time for public finance institutions to learn some lessons from past mistakes and refuse to support Papua LNG and other fossil fuel projects.”

Makiko Arima, Senior Finance Campaigner at Oil Change International said: 

“Japan is derailing the transition to renewable energy across Asia and globally. Despite its G7 commitment to end fossil fuel financing, its public financial institutions like the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) continue to support new fossil fuel projects, including the Scarborough gas field in Australia and gas power plants in Mexico. JBIC is currently investigating a claim that it failed to follow its social and environmental safeguards in developing the Philippines’ first LNG import terminal in Batangas. Japan needs to put people and planet over profit, and shift its finances from fossil fuels to renewables.”

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Regional press releases on this report are available for the United States, Canada, Japan, Korea, and Italy.

Notes:

[1] You can download the report here

This report is an update to the November 2022 Report, At A Crossroads: Assessing G20 and MDB International Energy Finance Ahead of Stop Funding Fossils Pledge Deadline, which looked at G20 country and MDB traceable international public finance for fossil fuels from 2019-2021 and found they are still backing at least USD 55 billion per year in oil, gas, and coal projects.

  • The Clean Energy Transition Partnership (CETP) was launched at the 2021 UN COP26 climate conference in Glasgow. The 41 signatories (full list here) aim to “end new direct public support for the international unabated fossil fuel energy sector by the end of 2022” and instead “prioritise our support fully towards the clean energy transition.” 
  • This implementation tracker outlines country-level progress on the CETP, and is  updated on a regular basis.
  • This fossil fuel finance violations tracker outlines the laggard countries who have broken their commitment to the CETP, namely the U.S., Italy, and Germany, and continued to finance fossil fuel projects with public money in 2023
  • The IPCC’s AR6 report highlights public finance for fossil fuels as ‘severely misaligned’ with reaching the Paris goals, but that if shifted, it could play a critical role in closing the mitigation finance gap, enabling emission reductions and a just transition. More background on the role international public finance plays in shaping energy systems is available in this Oil Change International briefing.
  • A legal opinion by Professor Jorge E Viñuales from the University of Cambridge and Barrister Kate Cook of Matrix Chambers argues that governments and public finance institutions that continue to finance fossil fuel infrastructure are potentially at risk of climate litigation.