Global coal use must be phased out if we are to minimize temperature increases associated with climate change. Most new coal plants are being built in the Asia Pacific and rely on overseas finance, with Indonesia and Vietnam the leading recipients. However, the politics of coal plant finance are changing, with many projects cancelled in recent years. This article explores the factors that led to coal plant cancellations in Vietnam and Indonesia. Based on new data of coal plant finance and elite interviews, we find fuel switching, public opposition, and national planning were the dominant reasons for cancellations in Vietnam, while Indonesia’s reasons were more diverse. Vietnam also had a larger number of cancellations than Indonesia, which has a more entrenched domestic coal mining sector. These findings suggest that Vietnam is farther along the coal phaseout agenda than Indonesia. We further provide provisional explanations for these patterns.

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