U.S. anti-coal dominoes hit BRICS wall, other skeptics
By Anna Yukhananov and Valerie Volcovici
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A year ago, U.S. President Barack Obama sought to mobilize the nation behind a grand plan: fight climate change by slashing carbon pollution at home, while prodding other countries to follow.
A key part of that strategy was for the United States to stop using public money to finance the construction of most coal-fired power plants abroad, seen as one of the main causes of rising pollution from heat-trapping gases.
But a year later, momentum has stalled on the Obama administration's plan for a global "domino effect" that would choke off financing for coal projects from public lending institutions around the world. Some key lenders continue to finance coal projects, and the Export-Import Bank of the United Stastes has put its ban on hold.
In the past year, Japan has approved funding for three major coal plants in energy-thirsty emerging markets. And Germany, typically a leader in global climate action, continues to support coal projects.
Observers say a new development bank from the BRICS group of emerging markets - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - is also unlikely to follow strict coal limits when it launches in two years.
If countries move away from coal as a fuel source, they are likely to do so for reasons other than a lack of public funding.
In 2012, according to the World Resources Institute, almost 1,200 coal-fired power plants had been proposed globally, with China and Pakistan accounting for the majority of the projects.