Smoke emanates from a coal burning powerplant in China Christian Petersen-Clausen/ Getty Images

Authorities must not throw money at fantasy of “clean” coal

China’s central bank is expected to announce that it will officially allow coal projects which use enhanced technologies to cut air pollution – but leave carbon emissions unaccounted for – to be financed by green bonds, according to media reports. In response, William Nee, Business and Human Rights Strategy Advisor at Amnesty International, said:

“There is no such thing as clean coal – China is throwing money at a fantasy. This disastrous move will encourage investors to keep financing the deadly fossil fuels which are making China’s air unbreathable. Around a million people die every year from air pollution in China and this step will undermine any progress the government has made towards addressing the issue. Pollution and carbon emissions are part of the same problem – no government serious about improving air quality should be pumping more money into coal.

“China’s coal consumption has risen for two consecutive years. This decision will set back global efforts to cut emissions, impacting the human rights of people all over the world who will pay the price for China’s recklessness.

“We are urging the Chinese authorities not to take this step, and to ensure that green bonds are only used for projects which truly protect the environment. Appropriating green money for coal would mark a devastating new low in the global fight against the climate crisis.”


No type of coal project is currently eligible to be funded with the proceeds from green bonds anywhere in the world. This move by China would put its environmental financing standards at odds with the protection of rights under international law and achievement of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.