The coal industry is being handed billions of dollars of public money to build new power plants and expand mining operations.
A new report published by campaign groups found more than $73 billion (£47.7bn) – or around $9 billion (£5.9bn) a year – has been invested by international financial organisations and governments worldwide in the last eight years.
The projects have added half a billion tons of carbon pollution every year between 2007 and 2014 – equivalent to the annual emissions of Italy.
The report states: “This funding has largely gone unnoticed as it is often hidden from view as nations of the world are choosing to sweep this under the rug rather than face the necessary task of cleaning up their own houses. The rug in this case is a web of public finance moved through largely unknown and opaque institutions.
“Governments of the world are literally hiding their ongoing support for fossil fuels and for coal in particular.”
Japan provided the largest amount of coal financing, with more than $20 billion (£13bn) between 2007 and 2014, followed by China, Korea, Germany and the US.
Together, the top five countries accounted for more than 80% of the coal finance. The UK stands in ninth place, according to the report published by National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Oil Change International and WWF.
Jake Schmidt, International Program Director at NRDC added: “When you’re in a hole you need to stop digging. That’s why countries and multilateral institutions should immediately stop using scarce public funds to subsidise coal-fired power plants, coal mining and infrastructure that supports coal use and drives climate change.
“These publicly financed dirty energy projects are taking the world in the exact opposite direction from where we need to go to solve the growing climate crisis and protect future generations.”