Energy & Environment

Biden orders end to federal support of overseas coal plants: report

President Biden
Associated Press/Susan Walsh

President Biden has ordered an end to overseas financing of coal plants and other carbon-intensive projects, the first such federal directive, according to Bloomberg.

In a diplomatic cable sent to every U.S. embassy, the White House ordered an immediate end to the financing of such projects as well as more indirect support such as technical assistance to pipeline operators.

“Our international energy engagement will center on promoting clean energy, advancing innovative technologies, boosting U.S. clean-tech competitiveness and providing financing and technical assistance to support net-zero transitions around the world,” the cable states, according to Bloomberg.

The announcement affects all new carbon-intensive projects that would involve at least $250,000 in federal spending. It reportedly contains numerous exemptions pertaining to issues such as national security, as well as a process by which individual government officials may seek an exemption.

A State Department spokesperson confirmed the directive to The Hill.

The announcement had long been rumored, and initial reports said it could be made during or immediately after the United Nations COP26 climate summit in November, when the U.S. committed to “end[ing] new direct public support for the international unabated fossil fuel energy sector by the end of 2022.”

It also comes just days after Biden signed an executive order calling for the federal government to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

In a statement shortly following the Bloomberg report, the environmentalist group Friends of the Earth blasted the order as insufficient.

“This policy is full of exemptions and loopholes that lack clarity, and could render these restrictions on fossil fuel financing completely meaningless,” Kate DeAngelis, an international finance program manager with Friends of the Earth, said in a statement. “The Biden administration wants to be able to say they are addressing climate change and adhering to our international commitments but are failing to put in place strong policies that would achieve any real, meaningful progress.”

Updated 2:54 p.m.

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