Following international finance giants like Deutsche Bank and Societe Generale, Standard Charter has announced that it “...will not directly finance any new coal-fired power projects, including expansions, in any location.” Whereas other banks operating in the region continue to keep their finance policies open to important emerging markets like Indonesia and Vietnam, Standard Charter’s new policy rules out financing all coal-fired power projects. This new commitment was revealed following Standard Charter’s withdrawal from a massive financing project in Vietnam earlier in 2018.
Since 2010, Standard Charter has loaned more than US$1.8 billion to coal power projects. By withdrawing from coal-fire projects in lucrative Southeast Asian markets like Indonesia and Vietnam, as well as more established asian markets, the bank takes an important step in curtailing greenhouse gas emissions. This move pushes against the notion that emerging markets require coal fuel to develop their economies, and signals that there is opportunity for good business absent of coal. Will Standard Charter’s leadership encourage others to do the same, or merely provide more opportunities for other banks willing to finance coal-fire projects? Will the recent tide of fossil fuel divestment carry on, and what prerequisites exists for a global fossil-free economy?