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Rich nations in stalemate over coal subsidy

Jun 12 2015 20:00

Brussels - Talks on phasing out a form of coal subsidies have ended in stalemate as Japan, the biggest user of the aid, led calls for more time in defiance of this week's G7 pledge on fossil fuel subsidies, sources said.

The Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has been trying for a year to get an agreement from its 34 member nations on phasing out export credits for coal, the most polluting of the fossil fuels.

Sources close to talks in Paris said there could be another meeting in September if nations showed signs of flexibility.

Strict criteria

The pressure for a deal is strong, but so is opposition, especially from Japan, the biggest user of the credits that help companies such as Toshiba to sell coal plant and mining technology abroad.

France, which late this year hosts UN climate talks, is pushing for strict criteria, while G7 leaders of the world's major industrial democracies on Monday backed a target to limit the average rise in global temperatures to 2°C.

The G7 leaders pledged to eliminate "inefficient fossil fuel subsidies" and to "continue progress in the OECD discussions on how export credits can contribute to our common goal to address climate change".

But that can be interpreted to allow export credits to continue in some form.

Coal technology

Industry argues they ensure only the most efficient coal-fired generation is used and that can cut emissions in nations that might otherwise use more polluting technology.

Environment campaigners dispute that.

"The main beneficiaries are OECD dirty industry, not energy poor nations or the planet," Sebastien Godinot, an economist at WWF, said.

As other subsidies have disappeared, OECD export credits have increased in significance, according to research by environmental campaigners, including WWF.

Their analysis of the numbers available found Japan provided around $20bn in public money to export of coal technology between 2007 to 2014. In the European Union, Germany is the largest user.


wwf  |  toshiba  |  oecd  |  japan  |  belgium  |  coal
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