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    Mammoth field fires up Norway's oil industry

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Mammoth field fires up Norway's oil industry


2019-12-12
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UnderUnder yellowyellow metalmetal legslegs stretchingstretching beneathbeneath thethe sea,sea, billionsbillions ofof dollarsdollars lielie buried.buried. AsAs thethe worldworld triestries hardhard toto halthalt globalglobal warming,warming, aa hugehuge oiloil fieldfield breathesbreathes newnew lifelife intointo Norway's oiloil sector.sector.

"Massive!","Massive!", exclaimsexclaims aa delighteddelighted Arne Sigve Nylund, thethe headhead ofof energyenergy giantgiant Equinor's Norway operations.operations.

"At"At itsits peak,peak, itit willwill representrepresent approximately 25-30 percentpercent ofof thethe totaltotal oiloil productionproduction fromfrom thethe NorwegianNorwegian continentalcontinental shelf,"shelf," hehe sayssays asas hehe takestakes reportersreporters onon aa tourtour ofof thethe Johan Sverdrup oiloil field,field, hardhat firmly securedsecured onon hishis head.head.

FiftyFifty yearsyears afterafter thethe ScandinavianScandinavian countrycountry firstfirst struckstruck blackblack gold,gold, thethe fieldfield holdsholds thethe promisepromise ofof anotheranother half-century ofof oiloil business,business, despitedespite growinggrowing oppositionopposition toto fossilfossil fuels.fuels.

ThatThat isis musicmusic toto thethe earsears ofof Norway's oiloil sector,sector, hithit byby aa continuouscontinuous declinedecline inin productionproduction sincesince thethe turnturn ofof thethe millenniummillennium andand aa dropdrop inin oiloil pricesprices sincesince 2014.

Johan Sverdrup -- namednamed afterafter aa NorwegianNorwegian primeprime ministerminister -- meansmeans welcomewelcome jobsjobs andand investments.investments.

AccordingAccording toto Equinor, whichwhich isis 67-percent ownedowned byby thethe NorwegianNorwegian state,state, thethe fieldfield representsrepresents aa windfallwindfall ofof 1.43 trilliontrillion kroner ($157 billion,billion, 141 billionbillion euros),euros), withwith moremore thanthan 900 billionbillion duedue toto endend upup inin statestate coffers.coffers.

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AA windfallwindfall thatthat almostalmost endedended upup inin otherother hands: testtest drillingdrilling inin thethe 1970s byby FrenchFrench oiloil companycompany Elf,Elf, nownow aa partpart ofof Total,Total, failedfailed toto findfind thethe oiloil fieldfield byby justjust aa fewfew metres.metres.

Norway's KingKing Harald willwill formally inaugurateinaugurate thethe fieldfield inin January,January, butbut productionproduction beganbegan backback inin earlyearly OctoberOctober andand 350,000 barrelsbarrels areare alreadyalready beingbeing pumpedpumped upup eacheach day.day.

ThatThat "probably""probably" makesmakes itit thethe mostmost productiveproductive fieldfield inin westernwestern Europe, accordingaccording toto thethe NorwegianNorwegian PetroleumPetroleum Directorate.Directorate.

WhenWhen itit hitshits itsits peakpeak inin latelate 2022, thethe fieldfield -- whichwhich alsoalso includesincludes companiescompanies Lundin ofof Sweden, Aker BP ofof Norway, andand France'sFrance's TotalTotal -- isis expectedexpected toto produceproduce almostalmost doubledouble that,that, oror 660,000 barrelsbarrels perper day.day.

TheThe installationinstallation -- consistingconsisting ofof fourfour platforms,platforms, soonsoon toto bebe five,five, connectedconnected byby suspendedsuspended walkwayswalkways -- areare soso largelarge thatthat workersworkers useuse bigbig blueblue three-wheeled scootersscooters toto getget around.around.

TheThe sitesite isis runrun onon electricityelectricity fromfrom land,land, suppliedsupplied byby aa 160-kilometer (100-mile) underwaterunderwater cable.cable.

AndAnd it'sit's cleanclean energy,energy, sourcedsourced fromfrom hydroelectrichydroelectric dams.dams.

AtAt thethe productionproduction stage,stage, eacheach barrelbarrel hashas aa carboncarbon footprintfootprint 25 timestimes lowerlower thanthan thethe globalglobal average,average, sayssays RuneRune Nedregaard, headhead ofof operationsoperations atat Johan Sverdrup.

"That's"That's importantimportant inin aa climateclimate perspective.perspective. ConsideringConsidering wewe dodo needneed oil,oil, it'sit's importantimportant toto produceproduce thatthat oiloil asas efficiently asas possible."possible."

- CashCash cowcow -

ButBut climateclimate changechange knowsknows nono borders,borders, andand whenwhen thethe oiloil isis burned,burned, itit isis justjust asas pollutingpolluting asas anyany otherother petrol,petrol, argueargue environmentalenvironmental activists.activists.

Johan Sverdrup's recoverablerecoverable reservesreserves ofof 2.7 billionbillion barrelsbarrels representrepresent moremore thanthan 20 timestimes Norway's totaltotal annualannual greenhousegreenhouse gasgas emissions,emissions, theythey say.say.

"It's"It's thethe oiloil policiespolicies thatthat laylay thethe groundworkgroundwork forfor climateclimate policy,policy, andand itit shouldshould bebe thethe otherother wayway around,"around," chargescharges thethe headhead ofof thethe NorwegianNorwegian branchbranch ofof FriendsFriends ofof thethe Earth,Earth, Silje AskAsk Lundberg.

OilOil andand naturalnatural gasgas havehave enabledenabled thethe ScandinavianScandinavian countrycountry toto amassamass thethe world'sworld's biggestbiggest sovereignsovereign wealthwealth fund,fund, withwith moremore thanthan 10 trilliontrillion kroner ($1 trillion)trillion) stashedstashed awayaway forfor futurefuture generations.generations.

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ButBut aa growinggrowing numbernumber ofof NorwegiansNorwegians wantwant thethe countrycountry toto speedspeed upup itsits transitiontransition toto aa greengreen economy,economy, opinionopinion pollspolls suggest,suggest, andand moremore andand moremore politicalpolitical movementsmovements havehave calledcalled forfor thethe oiloil sectorsector toto bebe curtailedcurtailed oror eveneven phasedphased outout entirely.entirely.

TwoTwo NGOsNGOs havehave suedsued thethe statestate toto getget itit toto cancelcancel drillingdrilling licenceslicences recentlyrecently awardedawarded inin thethe Arctic.Arctic. HavingHaving lostlost theirtheir casecase inin districtdistrict court,court, thethe NGOsNGOs nownow awaitawait aa verdictverdict inin thethe appealsappeals court.court.

"The"The governmentgovernment cancan nono longerlonger ignoreignore thethe dangerousdangerous impactimpact itsits exportedexported oiloil isis havinghaving onon thethe climate,"climate," stressesstresses Frode Pleym, thethe headhead ofof Greenpeace Norway, oneone ofof thethe plaintiffsplaintiffs inin thethe lawsuit.lawsuit.

"Oil"Oil isis oil,oil, nono mattermatter wherewhere itit isis burned."burned."

ToTo limitlimit globalglobal warmingwarming toto 1.5 degreesdegrees CelsiusCelsius inin lineline withwith thethe Paris Agreement,Agreement, scientistsscientists saysay itit willwill bebe necessarynecessary toto bebe carboncarbon neutralneutral byby 2050.

Norway seessees itselfitself asas aa climateclimate champion,champion, heavilyheavily subsidising thethe purchasepurchase ofof electricelectric carscars andand generously fundingfunding effortsefforts toto protectprotect thethe rainforests.rainforests.

ButBut itit isis oneone ofof onlyonly aa fewfew countriescountries inin Europe thatthat hashas higherhigher greenhousegreenhouse gasgas emissionsemissions nownow thanthan inin 1990.

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TheThe NorwegianNorwegian oiloil andand gasgas industryindustry hashas seenseen emissionsemissions soarsoar byby 73 percentpercent duringduring thatthat period,period, andand theythey nownow accountaccount forfor 27 percentpercent ofof thethe country'scountry's totaltotal emissions,emissions, officialofficial statisticsstatistics show.show.

TheThe governmentgovernment hashas insistedinsisted onon thethe needneed toto prepareprepare thethe economyeconomy forfor thethe post-oil era,era, butbut atat thethe samesame timetime itit continuescontinues toto awardaward aa recordrecord numbernumber ofof exploration licences.licences.

Clearly, it'sit's trickytricky toto cutcut offoff aa cashcash cowcow thatthat financesfinances aa fifthfifth ofof thethe budget.budget.

"The"The personperson whowho willwill switchswitch offoff thethe lightslights onon thethe NorwegianNorwegian continentalcontinental shelfshelf isis notnot bornborn yet,"yet," PrimePrime MinisterMinister Erna Solberg saidsaid inin latelate 2018.

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Greta Thunberg is Time's 2019 Person of the Year


2019-12-11
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Greta Thunberg, thethe SwedishSwedish teenagerteenager whowho becamebecame thethe voicevoice ofof aa generationgeneration facingfacing thethe climateclimate changechange emergency,emergency, waswas WednesdayWednesday namednamed TimeTime magazine'smagazine's 2019 PersonPerson ofof thethe Year.Year.

UnknownUnknown toto thethe worldworld whenwhen sheshe launchedlaunched aa solosolo strikestrike againstagainst globalglobal warmingwarming inin mid-2018, thethe 16-year-old hashas sincesince inspiredinspired millionsmillions inin aa worldwideworldwide movementmovement thatthat sawsaw herher tippedtipped asas aa Nobel laureate.

"Wow,"Wow, thisthis isis unbelievable!"unbelievable!" Thunberg tweetedtweeted afterafter thethe announcementannouncement -- whichwhich camecame asas sheshe pressedpressed herher callcall forfor actionaction atat aa high-stakes UNUN climateclimate gatheringgathering inin Madrid.

"I"I shareshare thisthis greatgreat honorhonor withwith everyoneeveryone inin thethe #FridaysForFuture movementmovement andand climateclimate activistsactivists everywhere."everywhere."

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TheThe magazinemagazine interviewedinterviewed Thunberg aboardaboard thethe sailboatsailboat thatthat tooktook herher fromfrom thethe UnitedUnited StatesStates backback toto Europe, afterafter aa months-long journeyjourney throughthrough NorthNorth America aimedaimed atat raisingraising environmentalenvironmental awareness.

"We"We can'tcan't justjust continuecontinue livingliving asas ifif therethere waswas nono tomorrow,tomorrow, becausebecause therethere isis aa tomorrow.tomorrow. ThatThat isis allall wewe areare saying,"saying," Thunberg toldtold Time.Time.

"The"The politicspolitics ofof climateclimate actionaction areare asas entrenchedentrenched andand complexcomplex asas thethe phenomenonphenomenon itself,itself, andand Thunberg hashas nono magicmagic solution,"solution," TimeTime wrotewrote ofof thethe teenager.teenager.

"But"But sheshe hashas succeededsucceeded inin creatingcreating aa globalglobal attitudinalattitudinal shift,shift, transformingtransforming millionsmillions ofof vague,vague, middle-of-the-night anxietiesanxieties intointo aa worldwideworldwide movementmovement callingcalling forfor urgenturgent change.change.

"She"She hashas offeredoffered aa moralmoral clarion callcall toto thosethose whowho areare willingwilling toto act,act, andand hurledhurled shameshame onon thosethose whowho areare not."not."

- 'I'I wantwant youyou toto panic'panic' -

WithinWithin monthsmonths ofof launchinglaunching herher lonelylonely "School"School StrikeStrike forfor thethe Climate,"Climate," oror "Fridays"Fridays ForFor Future,"Future," protestprotest outsideoutside thethe SwedishSwedish parliament,parliament, Thunberg waswas spearheadingspearheading globalglobal youthyouth demonstrationsdemonstrations andand demandingdemanding environmentalenvironmental actionaction fromfrom decision-makers aroundaround thethe world.world.

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"I"I wantwant youyou toto panic,"panic," sheshe toldtold CEOsCEOs andand worldworld leadersleaders atat thethe annualannual WorldWorld EconomicEconomic ForumForum inin Davos Switzerland inin JanuaryJanuary 2019. "I"I wantwant youyou toto feelfeel thethe fearfear II feelfeel everyevery day.day. AndAnd thenthen II wantwant youyou toto act."act."

HerHer wordswords spreadspread likelike wildfirewildfire online.online.

TheThe daughterdaughter ofof anan operaopera singersinger mothermother andand anan actor-turned-producer father,father, Thunberg hashas facedfaced severesevere criticismcriticism -- thethe latestlatest fromfrom BrazilianBrazilian PresidentPresident Jair Bolsonaro, whowho dismisseddismissed herher asas aa "brat""brat" -- andand beenbeen thethe subjectsubject ofof aa swarmswarm ofof onlineonline conspiracyconspiracy theories.theories.

SomeSome havehave mockedmocked herher youthyouth -- oror soughtsought toto discreditdiscredit herher becausebecause sheshe hashas Asperger's syndrome,syndrome, aa mildmild formform ofof autism.autism.

HerHer diagnosisdiagnosis meansmeans thatthat Thunberg "doesn't operateoperate onon thethe samesame emotionalemotional registerregister asas manymany ofof thethe peoplepeople sheshe meets,"meets," TimeTime magazinemagazine wrote.wrote.

"She"She dislikesdislikes crowds; ignoresignores smallsmall talk; andand speaksspeaks inin direct,direct, uncomplicateduncomplicated sentences.sentences. SheShe cannotcannot bebe flatteredflattered oror distracted,"distracted," andand accordingaccording toto thethe magazine,magazine, "these"these veryvery qualitiesqualities havehave helpedhelped makemake herher aa globalglobal sensation."sensation."

Thunberg hashas beenbeen mystifiedmystified byby thethe hostilityhostility sheshe sometimessometimes faces.faces.

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"I"I honestlyhonestly don't understandunderstand whywhy adultsadults wouldwould choosechoose toto spendspend theirtheir timetime mockingmocking andand threateningthreatening teenagersteenagers andand childrenchildren forfor promotingpromoting sciencescience whenwhen theythey couldcould dodo somethingsomething goodgood instead,"instead," sheshe saidsaid inin September.September.

"Being"Being differentdifferent isis notnot anan illness."illness."

Thunberg sayssays sheshe hashas receivedreceived nono moneymoney forfor herher activism,activism, butbut withwith 12 millionmillion followersfollowers acrossacross herher Instagram, TwitterTwitter andand Facebook accounts,accounts, sheshe continuescontinues toto rackrack upup high-profilehigh-profile supporters,supporters, fromfrom Barack Obama toto thethe Dalai LamaLama andand Arnold Schwarzenegger.

"No"No oneone isis tootoo smallsmall toto havehave anan impactimpact andand changechange thethe world,"world," tweetedtweeted TheThe Obama FoundationFoundation asas itit welcomedwelcomed thethe TimeTime announcement.announcement.

DemocraticDemocratic WhiteWhite HouseHouse hopefulhopeful Joe Biden echoedechoed thatthat sentiment,sentiment, sayingsaying thethe "honor"honor isis well-deserved andand servesserves asas aa reminderreminder ofof thethe urgent,urgent, drasticdrastic actionaction wewe mustmust taketake toto addressaddress thethe climateclimate crisis."crisis."

"I"I couldn't thinkthink ofof aa betterbetter PersonPerson ofof thethe Year,"Year," agreedagreed formerformer secretarysecretary ofof statestate Hillary Clinton, thankingthanking Thunberg forfor herher "willingness toto telltell hard,hard, motivatingmotivating truths."truths."

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Climate activist Greta Thunberg is Time' 2019 person of the year


2019-12-11
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Greta Thunberg, thethe SwedishSwedish teenagerteenager whowho becamebecame thethe voicevoice ofof conscienceconscience forfor aa generationgeneration facingfacing thethe climateclimate changechange emergency,emergency, waswas announcedannounced WednesdayWednesday asas TimeTime magazine'smagazine's 2019 PersonPerson ofof thethe Year.Year.

TheThe 16-year-old firstfirst hithit thethe headlinesheadlines forfor herher solosolo strikestrike againstagainst globalglobal warmingwarming outsideoutside Sweden's parliamentparliament lastlast year.year.

"We"We can'tcan't justjust continuecontinue livingliving asas ifif therethere waswas nono tomorrow,tomorrow, becausebecause therethere isis aa tomorrow.tomorrow. ThatThat isis allall wewe areare saying,"saying," Thunberg toldtold Time.Time.

TheThe magazinemagazine interviewedinterviewed Thunberg aboardaboard thethe sailboatsailboat thatthat tooktook herher fromfrom thethe UnitedUnited StatesStates toto Europe afterafter aa hectichectic 11-week NorthNorth AmericanAmerican triptrip toto severalseveral USUS citiescities andand Canada.

Thunberg hashas takentaken herher disarmingly straightforwardstraightforward messagemessage -- "listen"listen toto thethe scientists"scientists" -- toto globalglobal decision-makers, accusingaccusing themthem ofof inaction.inaction.

TheThe SwedishSwedish activistactivist waswas inin Madrid asas thethe awardaward waswas announced,announced, atat aa UNUN climateclimate forumforum taskedtasked withwith savingsaving thethe worldworld fromfrom runawayrunaway globalglobal warming.warming.

"The"The politicspolitics ofof climateclimate actionaction areare asas entrenchedentrenched andand complexcomplex asas thethe phenomenonphenomenon itself,itself, andand Thunberg hashas nono magicmagic solution,"solution," TimeTime wrotewrote inin thethe interview.interview.

"But"But sheshe hashas succeededsucceeded inin creatingcreating aa globalglobal attitudinalattitudinal shift,shift, transformingtransforming millionsmillions ofof vague,vague, middle-of-the-night anxietiesanxieties intointo aa worldwideworldwide movementmovement callingcalling forfor urgenturgent change.change.

"She"She hashas offeredoffered aa moralmoral clarion callcall toto thosethose whowho areare willingwilling toto act,act, andand hurledhurled shameshame onon thosethose whowho areare not."not."

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Sydney SOLAS yacht race cancelled as thick smoke shrouds city


2019-12-10
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TheThe SOLAS BigBig BoatBoat ChallengeChallenge waswas cancelledcancelled TuesdayTuesday afterafter thickthick bushfire smokesmoke sentsent visibilityvisibility plummetingplummeting onon Sydney Harbour.Harbour.

Sydney toto Hobart RaceRace mediamedia directordirector Di Pearson saidsaid thethe eventevent hadhad beenbeen calledcalled offoff becausebecause ofof safetysafety concernsconcerns forfor bothboth competitorscompetitors andand otherother vesselsvessels onon thethe waterwater inin thethe reducedreduced visibility.visibility.

"The"The smokesmoke fromfrom allall thethe firesfires isis justjust soso severesevere herehere onon thethe harbourharbour thatthat youyou justjust can'tcan't seesee anything,anything, soso it'sit's justjust tootoo dangerous,"dangerous," sheshe toldtold AFP.

"The"The visionvision isis justjust soso poor."poor."

SixSix largelarge yachtsyachts hadhad beenbeen duedue toto lineline upup forfor thethe race,race, whichwhich isis aa curtain-raisercurtain-raiser forfor thethe biggestbiggest boatsboats duedue toto battlebattle outout lineline honourshonours inin thethe Sydney-Hobart openopen waterwater classicclassic whichwhich beginsbegins onon DecemberDecember 26.

"There's"There's obviouslyobviously aa lotlot ofof disappointmentdisappointment becausebecause it'sit's aa reallyreally bigbig dayday onon thethe water,water, it'sit's aa lotlot ofof fun,fun, wewe getget aa lotlot ofof spectatorsspectators bothboth onshoreonshore andand onon thethe water,"water," Pearson said.said.

SheShe saidsaid twotwo boatsboats -- includingincluding 2019 Sydney-Hobart lineline honourshonours winnerwinner WildWild OatsOats XI -- hadhad decideddecided toto sailsail outout toto traintrain anywayanyway asas somesome ofof theirtheir crewcrew hadhad travelledtravelled fromfrom overseasoverseas forfor thethe event.event.

Pearson saidsaid everyoneeveryone involvedinvolved waswas thinkingthinking ofof firefightersfirefighters battlingbattling moremore thanthan 100 blazesblazes acrossacross thethe countrycountry andand AustraliansAustralians hithit byby bushfires, whichwhich havehave killedkilled sixsix peoplepeople andand razedrazed moremore thanthan 700 homeshomes inin recentrecent months.months.

"Our"Our thoughtsthoughts ... areare withwith thethe peoplepeople whowho areare sufferingsuffering andand losinglosing theirtheir homes.homes. ThisThis isis aa minorminor aberrationaberration comparedcompared toto whatwhat aa lotlot ofof peoplepeople areare goinggoing throughthrough rightright now."now."

ItIt isis thethe firstfirst timetime thethe SOLAS BigBig BoatBoat Challenge,Challenge, whichwhich waswas firstfirst heldheld inin 1994 andand hadhad beenbeen duedue toto celebratecelebrate itsits 25th anniversaryanniversary thisthis year,year, hashas beenbeen cancelled.cancelled.

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Banks gave $745 billion to groups planning new coal power plants: NGOs


2019-12-06
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FinancialFinancial institutionsinstitutions havehave channeledchanneled $745 billionbillion overover thethe pastpast threethree yearsyears intointo companiescompanies planningplanning newnew coal-fired powerpower plants,plants, accordingaccording toto aa reportreport byby environmentalenvironmental groups,groups, whowho areare urgingurging globalglobal banksbanks toto stopstop financingfinancing thethe sector.sector.

TheThe report'sreport's releaserelease comescomes asas worldworld leadersleaders metmet thisthis weekweek inin Madrid forfor aa 12-day UNUN climateclimate summit,summit, wherewhere theythey areare expectedexpected toto hammerhammer outout somesome ofof thethe detailsdetails ofof thethe 2015 Paris agreement.agreement.

TheyThey faceface increasingincreasing pressurepressure toto stepstep upup theirtheir commitmentscommitments onon fossilfossil fuelfuel reductionreduction afterafter aa majormajor UNUN reportreport lastlast yearyear warnedwarned globalglobal warmingwarming mustmust bebe cappedcapped atat 1.5C andand thethe globalglobal economyeconomy mustmust bebe "carbon"carbon neutral"neutral" byby 2050 toto staystay underunder thatthat threshold.threshold.

ButBut thethe reportreport releasedreleased byby environmentalenvironmental groupsgroups onon ThursdayThursday citescites moremore thanthan 1,000 newnew coalcoal powerpower stationsstations oror unitsunits inin thethe pipeline.pipeline.

TheThe amountamount lentlent toto companiescompanies planningplanning newnew plantsplants waswas calculatedcalculated usingusing datadata coveringcovering bothboth lendinglending andand underwritingunderwriting betweenbetween JanuaryJanuary 2017 andand SeptemberSeptember 2019 forfor allall 258 coalcoal plantplant developersdevelopers identifiedidentified inin thethe GlobalGlobal CoalCoal ExitExit List,List, drawndrawn upup byby thethe Urgewald andand BankTrack groups.groups.

"Most"Most ofof thethe toptop banksbanks providingproviding loansloans oror investmentinvestment bankingbanking servicesservices toto thesethese companiescompanies acknowledgeacknowledge thethe risksrisks ofof climateclimate change,change, butbut theirtheir actionsactions areare aa slapslap inin thethe faceface toto thethe Paris ClimateClimate Agreement,"Agreement," saidsaid Greig Aitken, climateclimate campaignercampaigner atat BankTrack.

TheThe toptop threethree lenderslenders listedlisted areare thethe JapaneseJapanese banksbanks Mizuho, Mitsubishi UFJ FinancialFinancial GroupGroup andand thethe Sumitomo Mitsui BankingBanking Corporation.Corporation. TheseThese areare followedfollowed byby USUS giantgiant Citigroup andand France’s BNP Paribas.

"Japan's toptop threethree banksbanks areare underminingundermining thethe Paris AgreementAgreement andand tarnishingtarnishing theirtheir reputationsreputations asas thethe world'sworld's biggestbiggest lenderslenders toto coalcoal plantplant developers,"developers," saidsaid ShinShin Furuno ofof 350.org.

"Global"Global banksbanks mustmust alignalign theirtheir portfoliosportfolios withwith thethe Paris climateclimate goalsgoals byby endingending financefinance forfor thethe coalcoal sectorsector altogetheraltogether andand actively fundingfunding thethe transitiontransition towardstowards aa zerozero carboncarbon future."future."