Skip to main content

'Climate destruction': Top Asian banks, three from India, keep doors open to finance coal

By Rajiv Shah 

A new report released by a top Netherlands-based advocacy group, BankTrack, has said that of the nine major Asian banks which “are open for business in coal, dirtiest of fossil fuel” three are from India: State Bank of India, Axis Bank and Bank of Baroda. Other major Asian banks in the business of coal are Mizuho, SMBC and MUFG in Japan, and Bank Mandiri, Rakyat and Negara in Indonesia.
Titled “Coal Havens: The policy loopholes keeping coal finance alive in Asia”, the report underlines, Asia today is the ‘growth engine’ of the global coal industry despite the world agreeing to transition away from fossil fuels at COP28 in December 2023. To prove its point, the report cites the International Energy Agency (IEA), which say, global coal demand reached a record high in 2022 amidst the global energy crisis, rising by 4% year-on-year to 8.42 billion tonnes (Bt).
According to IEA, “The growth engine for coal demand, which increased in both power and non-power sectors, was once again Asia. In China, demand rose by 4.6%, or 200 million tonnes (Mt). In India, it increased by 9%, or 97 Mt; and in Indonesia, where nickel smelters became a significant source of demand growth, it shot up by 32%, or 49 Mt”.
The BankTrack report asserts, all this is happening because “most of Asia’s major banks have either very weak or non-existent exclusions of coal from their investment portfolios, leaving the door open to continued investment in climate destruction.”
The report seeks to draw attention to the fact that the coal financiers are resisting the energy transition in some of the largest hotspots for coal expansion in the world, with a focus on Indonesia, the Philippines, South Korea, Singapore and India. “Although China dwarfs the rest of the world in terms of coal power financing and generation capacity in the pipeline, these countries in South, East and Southeast Asia are the most notable areas of coal power outside that”, it says.
According to the report, China accounts for 59% of Asian coal financing, with most of the remaining expansion taking place elsewhere in Asia, including 16% in South Asia (India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh), 11% in Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia, Cambodia), and 9% in east Asia (Japan and South Korea). “Coal provides about half of all power generated in the region”, it adds.
Quoting the International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasts, report says, coal power usage up to 2025 will grow more in Southeast Asia (14%) than in India (7%) or China (5%). It describes Indonesia and Vietnam as places where coal dependency is high and transitions are likely to be challenging.
“National policies on coal are hugely important in shifting coal markets in Asia, where state ownership of banks and coal developers is relatively high”, it says, offering the example of India in this context:  “Captive coal is increasingly being represented among the coal plants that are clearing bureaucratic hurdles in India.” 
While in 2022 no new non-captive coal plants received environmental clearance in India, JSW Steel’s “fiercely opposed” Utkal steel plant captive coal power (Odisha) facility received environmental clearance in 2022, as also the Bodal captive plant in Gujarat, and the Malibrahmani captive plant in Odisha, which is projected to provide power to a steel plant in Angul, Odisha. .
Quoting the Toxic Bonds Network, which collects data on USD and euro-denominated bonds, the report says, “Coal developers across South Korea, Indonesia, India and China have relied on banks to underwrite their bond issuances to raise capital for their coal empires.”
“In India, the Adani Group has 15 bonds worth USD $7.8bn outstanding, and has relied on its most loyal financiers of Barclays and Standard Chartered to continue underwriting those issuances, propping up the company’s vast and corrupt coal infrastructure”, the report claims.
In India, only two of 34 banks have exclusion policy that prohibits lending for creating new capacities for coal-based energy
Pointing out that India’s Power Finance Corporation “has 10 bonds outstanding worth USD $4.5bn”, the report says, “Financing for thermal coal from 2005 to August 2023 came from large domestic entities like the Power Finance Corporation (USD $31bn), Rural Electrification Corporation (USD $19bn), and the State Bank of India (USD $9bn).”
According to the report, the level of financing by domestic financiers “dwarfed that of even the most active international lenders in Indian coal”. Thus, the top three international lenders (JBIC, or Japan’s export credit agency, China Development Bank and Standard Chartered) provided USD $2bn combined. In fact, seven-and-a-half times more finance was “provided collectively by domestic financiers (USD $86bn) for thermal coal, compared to international lenders (USD $6.5bn)”, it nots.
“Meanwhile”, the report claims, “International lenders like Barclays, Standard Chartered, Citi, Bank of America and DBS, as well as the Japanese megabanks SMBC, MUFG and Mizuho still support India’s coal baron, Adani. Barclays is a particularly steadfast supporter of the Adani Group, in spite of its financial turmoil and controversy – a relationship that should end for the sake of people and planet.”
“A notable point in the cases of Indonesia and India is that the domestic financiers are almost all state-owned, and therefore a significant driver of dependence on coal is national energy policy including subsidies and energy tariffs”, asserts the report.
In an analysis of the banks that finance coal fired power plants, the report says, “Axis Bank as having no coal policy”; Bank of Baroda’s “Business Responsibility and Sustainable Development Manual” does not mention coal. Same is the situation with regard to the Union Bank of India’s sustainability policy, Punjab and Sind Bank, and Bank of India. As for India’s Export-Import Bank it “provided USD $310m for the refurbishment of Hwange power station in Zimbabwe.”
In fact, states the report, in India, “Only two of the 34 banks (Federal Bank and Survoday Small Finance Bank) have an exclusion policy that prohibits lending for the construction of new coal power plants or the extension of an existing coal power plant.” Additionally, it underlines, “Federal Bank has also committed to not finance oil and gas exploration activities, putting it at the top of the table on that criterion.”



'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site The article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Don't agree on domestic subsidies, ensure food security at WTO meet: Farmer leaders

Counterview Desk  The Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (ICCFM), a top network of farmers’ organizations in India, in a letter to Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce and Industry, has asked him to “safeguard food security and sovereignty, even as ensuring peasants' rights" at the 13th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO MC 13), to take place from 26 to 29 February 2024 in Abu Dhabi.

Students, lawyers, professors detained in Delhi for demonstrating in support of farmers

By Our Representative  About 25 protestors, belonging to the civil rights network, Campaign Against State Repression (CASR), a coalition of over 40 organisations, were detained at Jantar Mantar for holding a demonstration in support of the farmers' stir on Friday. Those detained included students, lawyers and professors, including Prof Nandita Narain and Prof N Sachin. 

Sharp 61-85% fall in Tech startup funding in India's top 'business-friendly' States

By Rajiv Shah Funding in Tech startups in top business-friendly Indian states has witnessed a major fall, a data intelligence platform for private market research has said in a series of reports it has released this month. Analysing Tech startup data of Telangana, Maharashtra, Delhi NCR, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala, Tracxn Technologies Ltd , the Bengaluru-based research firm, finds that except for Kerala, funding witnessed a fall of anywhere between 61% and 85%.

Solar energy funding dips 9% in 2023; 2024 'kicks off' with US$1 billion investment

By Lakshmitha Raj*  Solar energy tech companies have already secured slightly over US$1 billion in funding in 2024 (till Feb 7, 2024) after total funding into Solar Energy companies in India fell 9% to US$1.55B in 2023 from US$1.7B in 2022. A total of 39 $100M+ rounds have been closed till date, with Delhi leading the city-wise funding, followed by Gurugram and Mumbai.

Maize, bajra, jute, banana cultivation banned off West Bengal border: Plea to NHRC

Counterview Desk  West Bengal-based human rights defender Kirity Roy, who is secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Manch, and is national convenor of the Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity, in a representation to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission, second within few days, has bought to light one more case of trespassing and destruction of a fertile banana plantation by BSF personnel along the Indo-Bangladesh border, stating, despite a written complaint to the police has taken "no initiative".

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

India second best place to invest, next to UAE, yet there is 'lacks support' for IT services

By Sreevas Sahasranamam, Aileen Ionescu-Somers*  The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the best place in the world to start a new business, according to the latest annual Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) survey. The Arab nation is number one for the third year in a row thanks to a big push by the government into cutting-edge technology in its efforts to diversify away from oil.

Mahanadi delta: Aggressive construction in flood plains, reduced fish stock, pollution

By Sudhansu R Das  Frequent natural calamities, unemployment, low farmers’ income, increase in crime rate and lack of quality human resources to strike a balance between growth and environment etc. continue to haunt the state. The state should delve into the root causes of poverty, unemployment and natural calamities.