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South Africa’s FirstRand bank to end financing for new coal-fired power plants

September 15, 2021

Bloomberg Green:

FirstRand Ltd., Africa’s biggest bank by market value, is ending its funding of new coal-fired power stations immediately and will halt the financing of new projects to mine the fuel over the next five years.

The Johannesburg-based lender joins its peer Nedbank Group Ltd. in making such commitments as pressure mounts on banks to shun fossil-fuel lending from investors and activists. While South Africa’s largest banks are reducing their exposure to activities that pollute the environment, they have set differing time-lines to take into account the nation’s reliance on coal.

“It is the long-term ambition of FirstRand to be net zero by 2050,” it said in its updated policy published on Wednesday. The bank will also reduce its short- and medium-term limits on its overall coal exposure, it said.

South Africa relies on coal for almost all of its electricity and exports the fuel to countries including China and India. Its carbon emissions rival those of the U.K., an economy eight times its size.

Other South African banks such as Investec Ltd. and Standard Bank Group Ltd. are also pursuing plans that encourage clients to opt for greener technologies.

[Roxanne Henderson]

More: New coal power stations are cut off from funding by FirstRand

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