Nov 2 • 49M

Coal plants are still getting financed, despite pledges otherwise

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David Roberts
Volts is a podcast about leaving fossil fuels behind. I've been reporting on and explaining clean-energy topics for almost 20 years, and I love talking to politicians, analysts, innovators, and activists about the latest progress in the world's most important fight. (Volts is entirely subscriber-supported. Sign up!)
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Here at Volts, I have done fairly extensive coverage of the US coal industry and its woes. Most listeners probably know the basic story: in the US, coal is on the way out, initially because of cheap natural gas but now because of the whole suite of inexpensive clean power technologies.

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But the global coal fleet is a different matter. Coal is still growing across Asia, still getting funded, despite all the headlines from the last five years about countries and institutions getting out of the business of coal financing.

It's a bit of a paradox: it's difficult to find a major financial institution or government that is willing to be openly associated with coal, but somehow coal plants are still getting financed.

How is that? Well, it turns out that it has to do with some fairly fine distinctions among different kinds of financing and how they are tracked. A new report from Global Energy Monitor — “Opacity and Accountability: the Hidden Financial Pipelines Supporting New Coal“ — digs into this question.

Ted Nace & Paddy McCully

To explore the subject, I got in touch with Ted Nace, executive director of Global Energy Monitor, and Paddy McCully, executive director of Reclaim Finance. We talked about where the money to build coal plants is coming from, which sources are and aren't being cut off, and the next steps for anti-coal activism.