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7 Sep 2021

Open letter by 35 CSOs urges Bank of China to phase out financing coal projects worldwide; Bank did not respond

Open Letter to Bank of China

In May 2021, 35 civil society organisations from around the world wrote to Bank of China, raising their concerns about Bank of China's financing of coal projects worldwide. According to the letter, Bank of China's coal financing totals more than US$35 billion since the Paris climate agreement was signed in 2015, making the bank the largest coal financier in the world. Bank of China's lack of any public policy that curtails its investments in coal also puts it behind over 130 financial institutions that have already limited their support for fossil fuels in recognition that coal, oil and gas carry significant environmental, reputational and financial risks.

Coal Financing and Community Concerns

According to the open letter, in many instances, coal expansion also destroys local communities' livelihoods. In Bangladesh, thousands of fishermen and farmers have been displaced and not fully compensated for the loss of their homes and farmlands during the land acquisition process for coal power plants. In Vietnam, the resettlement area offered to farmers displaced by a coal power plant is not suitable for farming. In Turkey and Indonesia, coal power plants have polluted farmlands and fishing grounds that villagers depend upon for their livelihood.

As a signatory to the Green Investment Principles, Bank of China is encouraged to incorporate sustainability and ESG factors into its corporate strategies. The signatories also invite Bank of China to immediately develop and disclose a policy that:

  • rules out financing new and expansionary thermal coal power and mining projects,
  • commits to phasing out financing to the fossil fuel industry in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement, and
  • prioritizes the development of clean, renewable energy in a manner that upholds local ecological sustainability and the rights of communities to free, prior and informed consent.

Company Response

In May 2021, the 35 CSOs addressed the letter to Bank of China's Chairman Liu Liange, inviting the bank to respond within two weeks. Bank of China did not respond.

In September 2021, the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre reached out to Bank of China again, inviting the bank to respond to the open letter. Bank of China did not respond.

The 35 civil society organisations are:

  1. Trend Asia - Indonesia
  2. 350Africa.org - South Africa
  3. 350.org - Global
  4. African Climate Reality Project - South Africa
  5. Asian Energy Network (AEN) - Philippines
  6. Asian People’s Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD) - Philippines
  7. Auriga Nusantara - Indonesia
  8. Bangladesh Poribesh Andolan (BAPA) - Bangladesh
  9. Bangladesh Working Group on External Debt (BWGED) - Bangladesh
  10. BankTrack - The Netherlands
  11. BINDU Women Development Organization - Bangladesh
  12. Centre for Environmental Rights - South Africa
  13. deCOALonize Campaign - Kenya
  14. Eastern Mediterranean Environment Platform (DAÇE) - Turkey
  15. Environment and Consumer Protection Association Adana (ÇETKO) - Turkey
  16. Fossil Free South Africa - South Africa
  17. Friends of the Earth Japan - Japan
  18. Fundacja "Rozwój TAK - Odkrywki NIE" - Poland
  19. Fund Our Future - South Africa
  20. Kanopi Hijau Indonesia - Indonesia
  21. Market Forces - Global
  22. Mekong Watch - Japan
  23. Pakistan Kissan Rabita Committee - Pakistan
  24. Pena Masyarakat - Indonesia
  25. Reclaim Finance - France
  26. ResponsiBank - Indonesia
  27. Rural Development Policy Institute - Pakistan
  28. Save Lamu - Kenya
  29. Solutions For Our Climate (SFOC) - Republic of Korea (South Korea)
  30. The Prakarsa - Indonesia
  31. Trend Asia - Indonesia
  32. WALHI - Indonesia
  33. WALHI West Java - Indonesia
  34. Waterkeepers - Bangladesh
  35. YouthNet for Climate Justice - Bangladesh