Providers of capital are key to the planning, permitting, development, and operation of coal mines and the construction of power stations. But it is often very difficult to detect which financiers are supporting the climate-damaging projects of the coal industry. The international hard coal business is financed by a complex network of banks, insurers, funds, companies, and government institutions. Europe’s largest coal investors and lenders include the Norwegian State Pension Fund, Crédit Agricole, Deutsche Bank, UniCredit, Santander, and Barclays.
In 2020, a study by Europe Beyond Coal showed that the eight biggest European coal companies – RWE (Germany), PGE (Poland), EPH and ČEZ (both Czech Republic), Enel/ Endesa (Italy/Spain), and Fortum/Uniper (Finland/Germany) – have received €7.9 billion in lending since 2018. These eight companies make up half of all coal-based CO2 emissions in the EU!
At the end of 2019, the top four European investors held five billion euros in shares or bonds in the eight coal companies listed above – led by the Norwegian Government Pension Fund, which held €1.5 billion in shares and bonds, Crédit Agricole with €1.4 billion, Allianz with €1.1 billion through third party assets, and Deutsche Bank with one billion euros.
In addition to these loans, financial institutions invest in coal companies’ shares, buy coal company bonds, and underwrite services. The top ‘creditors’ of European coal companies are UniCredit, BNP Paribas, Barclays, and Société Générale.