Major banks pledging net zero are pouring money into the dirtiest fossil fuel

Financial institutions channeled more than $1.5 trillion into the coal industry in loans and underwriting from January 2019 to November 2021, even though many have made net-zero pledges, a report by a group of 28 non-government organizations showed.

Reducing coal use is a key part of global efforts to slash climate-warming greenhouse gases and bring emissions down to "net zero" by the middle of the century, and governments, firms and financial institutions across the world have pledged to take action.

But banks continue to fund 1,032 firms involved in the mining, trading, transportation and utilization of coal, the research showed.

The study said banks from six countries - China, the United States, Japan, India, Britain and Canada - were responsible for 86% of global coal financing over the period.

Direct loans amounted to $373 billion, with Japanese banks Mizuho Financial, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial -- both members of the Net Zero Banking Alliance -- identified as the two biggest lenders.

The coal sector is responsible for nearly half of global greenhouse gas emissions. More than 40 countries pledged to end coal use following climate talks in Glasgow in November, though major consumers such as China, India and the United States did not sign up.