Singapore banks move to end Southeast Asia’s coal addiction – by Kentaro Iwamoto (Nikkei Asian Review – May 8, 2019)

SINGAPORE — A push to end Southeast Asia’s addiction to fossil fuels is gathering pace after the region’s two biggest banks said they would stop funding coal-fired power plants.

Singapore’s DBS Group Holdings said last month that it would cease financing new coal power projects from 2021 following the completion of existing projects in Indonesia and Vietnam, and will instead tilt toward renewable energy projects such as solar power. Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. announced that it would also quit coal.

The move is “a major game-changer for energy finance in the ASEAN region,” said Julien Vincent, executive director at Australia-based environment advocacy group Market Forces.

The commitments by DBS and OCBC are “not only in line with what the science says is needed to avoid catastrophic climate change,” said Vincent, “but also send a massive signal to the financial markets that coal is officially out of fashion.”

Over the past year several Japanese trading houses have stated they will no longer invest in new coal capacity, as has China’s State Development and Investment Corporation of China. Australia’s largest insurance company QBE will also stop offering insurance for thermal coal facilities, according to Keisuke Sadamori, director of energy markets and security at the International Energy.

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