Singapore banks need to relook support for coal

Globally, governments are rethinking their plans for coal as they realise its heavy price.

Singapore banks need to reconsider their support for coal (S'pore banks big funders of region's coal projects: Study; Jan 21). Coal is the energy source that generates the most carbon emissions, air pollution and waste ash.

Last year, China announced that 150 million kW of new coal power generation will be halted or postponed. Earlier this year, the leaders of Bac Lieu province in Vietnam rejected a proposed coal power plant.

There is, therefore, a significant risk that any coal power project will face delays or cancellations before it is completed, resulting in the bank loan being unrecoverable. On the other hand, renewables such as solar, wind and hydropower are becoming increasingly attractive.

Globally, last year, net growth in capacity for solar power dwarfed that of coal, oil and gas combined.

Falling prices have contributed to the attractiveness of clean energy sources. In India, wind and solar power are already 20 per cent cheaper than coal power.

In short, renewables are doing to coal power what mobile phones did to telephone landlines - they are disrupting old and inefficient technologies and allowing developing countries to leapfrog the development pathway.

To prove that their claims of being at the forefront of innovation and long-term sustainability are not just words on paper, our Singapore banks need to seriously reevaluate their support for coal.

Tan Yi Han

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 04, 2018, with the headline 'Singapore banks need to relook support for coal'. Print Edition | Subscribe