For Immediate Release
Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance’s new coal policy poses serious question over Japanese financial sector’s effectiveness in tackling climate change?
Tokyo, Japan September 13 2018-- Japanese NGOs (Greenpeace Japan, 350.org Japan, Japan Center for a Sustainable Environment and Society (JACSES), Friends of the Earth Japan (FoE Japan), and Kiko Network) issued the following statement given the news report on Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Company’s announcement of a new policy to stop new financing to coal power plant projects.
“With the newest announcement from Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Company, all three of the oldest life insurance companies of Japan have come out with policies in regards to restricting financing to coal power plants. We view this as a positive step.
Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Company’s policy states that it will restrict new financing to coal power plants regardless of their geographic location, but the restriction policy excludes coal power plants that utilize ultra-supercritical (USC) technology. This effectively means that this policy has no influence over many domestic and international coal power plant projects that are now underway. (1) We are disappointed about the policy’s inability to reduce coal power usage which is a major contributor to climate change. It is very unfortunate that Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Company was the slowest insurance company to come out with the weakest policy as compared to its peers Nippon Life Insurance and Dai-ichi Life Insurance.
Even with most cutting-edge technology, coal fired power remains the most carbon intensive form of electricity generation. The commitment to make "finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development” is enshrined in the Paris Agreement, but the initiatives coming out of Japanese financial institutions are lagging behind other OECD nations.
Also, recent research found Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Group to be the 4th biggest investor with $739 billion USD of shares and bonds in the 19 largest domestic coal developers in Japan (2), positioning the company as a major financial supporter of the new-coal fired power plants being built in Japan.
In light of the many lives that were lost in Japan this summer due to the heavy rains that devastated western Japan and the thousands of people that were taken to the hospital because of intense heat, life insurance companies that are closely connected to the lives of people need to go further by restricting corporate finance to companies involved in new coal development and divesting from companies dependent on coal power and coal mining. We call for Japan’s major insurance companies and the three major financial groups to take truly effective actions in "making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development,” as stipulated by the Paris Agreement.
Notes to the Editor:
1. List of Japanese coal projects and their technology types （Link)
2. 350.org Japan Energy Finance in Japan 2018: Funding Climate Change and Nuclear Risk（Link)