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South Korean pension funds declare war on coal

Two South Korean public pension funds said Thursday they would halt all investments promoting the construction of coal-fired power plants and boost allocations to alternative energy instead.

In a joint statement, South Korea's 15 trillion won ($13.3 billion) Teachers' Pension Fund and the 10 trillion won Government Employees Pension Service noted that the country's financial institutions have been slow to address the climate change threat posed by coal's greenhouse gas emissions.

"Korea is not actively responding" to efforts to counter the risks of climate change, the statement said, with the 46% of South Korea's electricity production supplied by coal, exceeding the 40% global average.

The statement said the two funds will take the lead in shifting South Korea's energy product away from coal, in an effort to contribute to the global environmental goal of limiting the earth's average temperature rise since the dawn of industrialization.

The statement said the two funds won't participate in "financial investments (or) support, through project finance and related corporate bonds, the construction of coal power plants at home and abroad," adding that with the looming threat of stranded assets such a policy makes sense in terms of investment returns as well as in terms of environmental outcomes.