350.org Japan presented Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG) with the “Most Irresponsible Bank Award 2018” as part of a demonstration at MUFG’s shareholder meeting in Tokyo today. MUFG, together with the two other major financial groups in the country, have been the target of a global petition launched by 350.org, calling on these financial groups to stop funding coal. (1)

On Monday, June 25, 350.org Japan and supporting NGOs submitted the petition, representing the voices of close to 9,000 citizens calling on MUFG, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group (SMFG) and Mizuho Financial Group (Mizuho FG)  to cease all new lending to coal fired power generation and coal extraction, and make concrete steps to align their investment and lending policies with the Paris Agreement. The petition urges the financial groups to provide a substantive response in time for the Global Climate Action Summit and United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) Annual Conference, both to be held on September 12-14, 2018 in California.

The mock award ceremony was arranged to highlight how MUFG was found to be the biggest financier among Japan’s financial groups (ranked 11th in the world)  in companies involved in coal power and other extreme fossil fuels, including tar sands and ultradeep oil, contributing $11.17 billion USD between 2014-2017 according to the “Fossil Fuel Finance Report Card 2018”. MUFG also falls behind global banks in its weak coal sector policies, receiving a “F” grade in the same report. Participants of the action also handed out copies of “2018 ESG Performance Report of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (Japanese)” which showcases examples of MUFG’s irresponsible banking practice to shareholders.

While MUFG is the worst offender in terms of its funding for extreme fossil fuels globally, all three major financial groups are guilty of materially financing coal development across the globe. The three financial groups recently released new environmental and social policies ahead of their AGMs, designating for the first time sector specific policies to inform their lending decisions on financing coal-fired power, palm oil and deforestation. Disappointingly, funding to the coal sector is only specifically restricted to “high efficiency coal” in Sumitomo Mitsui’s policy, while MUFG and Mizuho note that they will “refer to international guidelines” such as OECD Arrangement on Officially Supported Export Credits when considering new finance for coal fired power generation. Japanese NGOs have declared that current policies do not come even close to addressing the climate action needed in order to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. (2)

Shin Furuno, 350.org Japan Divestment Campaigner says, “Through this petition, thousands of people worldwide have called on Japan’s major financial groups to quit funding coal. Starting with Mitsubishi UFJ, we want Japan’s three biggest financial groups to recognize that consumers do not want their money fueling climate disaster. We also want to send the message to shareholders that continued investment in coal and other extreme fossil fuels is highly risky, while the world moves rapidly towards a renewable energy future. The financial groups’ new lending policies to reduce social and environmental risk is a step in the right direction, however current restrictions on coal and other fossil fuels are poor.” On the recently announced policies of the three major financial groups he comments, “We believe that the voices of concerned citizens played a significant role in the announcement of these policies and we will continue to make it clear that Japan’s financial groups should heed the voice of the people, stop funding coal and instead support a rapid transition towards a fossil free world. We are looking forward to receiving a positive response from them by the deadline.”

Notes to the editor:

  1. 350.org Japan and supporting NGOs ran a global petition calling upon Japan’s three biggest financial institutions — Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Mizuho Financial Group, and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group — to: i) disclose financial exposure to carbon intensive industries in line with the Task Force on Climate Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD); ii) outline business strategies and clear targets and metrics to align their finance policies with the Paris Agreement; iii) cease all new lending to coal fired power generation and coal extraction projects and companies involved in such projects. For more details please see: http://world.350.org/east-asia/divest-from-coal-en/
  2.  NGO Statement on MUFG Policy Announcement (5/25)NGO Statement on MizuhoFG Policy Announcement (6/15)NGO Statement on SMBC Policy Announcement (6/21)
sigh