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Major US lender votes against funding Vietnamese coal plant



The Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) has rejected a proposal to fund the construction of a coal-fired power plant in Vietnam.

The bank’s board made the decision after considering the likely environmental effects of the plant.

Environmental groups wrote an open letter to Barack Obama last week, urging him to intervene if the funding went ahead.

It said, “The Thai Binh II coal plant in the Red River Delta in Northern Vietnam is a 1,200 megawatt (MW) project that would use outmoded subcritical boiler technology, a violation of your Climate Action Plan and the ExportImport Bank’s environment policy. As such, this dirty coal plant will emit unacceptable air pollution that will worsen climate disruption and poison local communities.”

They called the Ex-Im Bank’s decision “the first crucial test case” of the climate change plan Obama unveiled in June.

The US president’s proposals looked at curbing greenhouse gas emissions. He said at the time, “Power plants can still dump limitless carbon pollution into the air for free. That’s not right, that’s not safe and it needs to stop.”

The Climate Action Plan dictates that the US ends its financing for foreign coal projects. The Ex-Im Bank decision shows that the administration is taking this pledge seriously.

Meanwhile, the World Bank recently agreed a new strategy that only allowed the funding of coal-fired coal plants in “rare circumstances”. The WWF has called for others to follow the Washington-based lender’s example.

Samantha Smith, leader of the WWF’s global climate and energy initiative, said, “Coal is the dirtiest of fossil fuel power sources – polluting local environments, and contributing heavily to global warming. 

“The move by the World Bank to limit new coal financing is welcome, and this should immediately become the norm for all international finance institutions.” 

Further reading:

World Bank announces plans to phase out investment in coal

Coal: spelling an end to a dirty heritage

India criticised for ‘environment costing’ coal mining plans

Global energy still on an unsustainable path, says IEA

The Guide to Limitless Clean Energy 2013