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France Cuts Export Credits for Coal Plants in Developing Countries

France is planning to cut off export credits for all coal plants in developing countries without carbon capture and storage (CCS) systems, Prime Minister Manuel Valls and Ecology Minister Ségolène Royal announced last week.

“France will do everything it can to reach an agreement at the COP 21, which will be held in Paris in December 2015,” Valls said. “We will be adapting our export aid in order to set a good example.”

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The country’s export credit agency, Coface, has issued more than €1.2 billion in public guarantees for coal projects since 2011, making it the fifth-largest supporter of coal exports among OECD countries between 2007 and 2013.

Friends of the Earth campaigner Lucie Pinson notes that Coface recently provided guarantees for South Africa’s Medupi Power Station, a coal plant that received World Bank support on the understanding that it would include CCS technology. The facility will go into service later this year, “but the [CCS] system is far from ready and the power station is expected to emit 29 million tons of CO2 per year,” EurActiv reports.

Barbière says the European Commission is “pursuing a less ambitious agenda” than France, proposing to withdraw support only for the most polluting plants while studying the technical feasibility of ‘clean coal’.