China: ICBC to “establish a road map and timeline for the gradual withdrawal of coal financing”, bank's chief economist announces
"Is Chinese bank ICBC’s coal exit a power move for a greener belt and road?", 29 July 2021
Speaking at the International Financial Forum Spring Meeting in Beijing on May 29, ICBC chief economist Zhou Yueqiu said the bank would “establish a road map and timeline for the gradual withdrawal of coal financing”, an announcement observers deemed significant.
ICBC, China’s largest bank in assets and one of the world’s biggest supporters of coal, is the first major Chinese financier to commit to such a plan as Chinese lenders face intense domestic and overseas pressure. [...]
For instance, in 2019 a court in Kenya ordered a halt to the construction of a US$2 billion coal-fired power plant in Lamu after activists argued the plant would endanger a Unesco World Heritage site. ICBC, which was providing US$1.2 billion of the funds, later pulled out of the deal. Similarly, South African Standard Bank, in which ICBC has a 20 per cent stake, also pulled out amid activist pressure on financiers to withdraw from the project. [...]
But he was not surprised ICBC was first to phase out coal financing. Baxter said the bank was the most international of China’s banks, with assets around the world and large stakes in other banks. It is a member of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) and Green Investment Principles for greening investment in the belt and road. [...]