The same story is playing out in coal. Since Jan. 2019, commercial banks have lent or underwritten $1.5 trillion to companies that either mine coal—the highest-emitting fossil fuel—or burn it in power plants, according to a Feb. 15 report by German environmental nonprofit Urgewald. The report found this is providing a vital lifeline to an industry under enormous political pressure to wind down. The worst offenders were predominantly in China, but also includes banks in Japan, the US, and Europe that are members of the NZBA.

Institutional investors that are members of the Net Zero Asset Managers Initiative (a parallel group to the NZBA), including BlackRock and Vanguard, also continue to hold billions of dollars shares and bonds in coal companies, the Urgewald report found.

Asset managers will have a chance to change their tune in the next few months when they vote on dozens of climate-related resolutions at companies in which they hold shares.

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