Divestment trends in Japan's international coal businesses

Gregory Trencher, Christian Downie, Koichi Hasegawa, Jusen Asuka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Continued investments in coal-fired power plants (CFPPs) and coal mining are incompatible with the Paris Agreement. As a major investor of both upstream coal mining and downstream CFPP construction, Japanese firms play a large role in sustaining the international coal market. Yet since mid-2018 numerous Japanese companies have announced a range of coal divestment policies. This situation, however, has not been unexamined by scholarship. Additionally, divestment literature outside Japan has focused overwhelmingly on financial institutions rather than the roles of other industry players driving the coal market. To address this gap, this paper examines four industries comprising Japan's international coal market (trading companies, electric utilities, plant equipment manufacturers and financial institutions) to empirically assess the extent of divestment behaviour and identify drivers and barriers. The empirical data reveal a slowdown, but not a cessation, of new and existing coal-related investments. Results also show that the extent of divestment trends can be largely explained by commercial factors, although institutional and structural factors are also at play. These findings have important policy implications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109779
JournalRenewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
Publication statusPublished - 2020 May


  • Coal phase-out
  • Coal policy
  • Divestment
  • Fossil fuel
  • Japan
  • Renewables


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