Bishop invites financial institutions to heed call of Philippine Church leaders

January 31, 2022

Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos challenged banks that are financing dirty energy projects to listen to the call of the Catholic Church on environmental protection.

The prelate made the appeal after the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines called for “unity and action amid a climate emergency and planetary crisis.”

The pastoral statement urged banking institutions that are funding coal, fossil gas, and other “destructive energy” to come up with policies and plans to restrict and eventually phase out their involvement in such industries.

Bishop Alminaza said majority of Philippine banks found to have been linked to coal and fossil gas companies and projects “remain mum on whether they are making an effort to turn their backs to dirty energy, while others have yet to come up with sufficiently ambitious policies and plans.”

The prelate urged the banks to take the new pastoral letter as “an invitation to exhibit genuine leadership in advancing climate action by ending their fossil fuel funding and paving the path to a future powered by clean energy from renewables.”

In 2019, the bishops’ conference vowed “not allow the financial resources of our Catholic institutions to be invested” in environmentally-destructive projects.

The new pastoral letter said the bishops “are now all the more aware that many of the financial institutions in whom we place our trust have been instrumental in the rise of fossil fuels, as well as other destructive and exploitative industries like mining and logging.”

Bishop Alminaza, who is convenor of Withdraw From Coal Coalition, said the new pastoral letter is an “expression of intent” to urge banks and financial institutions, in and beyond the Philippines, to stop fueling the flames of climate change.”

“Should they fail to come up with clear policies or timelines to withdraw from dirty energy, [the bishops’ conference] plans to divest from such institutions by no later than 2025,” he said.

The prelate said many of the banks are the culprit in the rapidly expanding pipeline of fossil gas projects, which today threatens to put out what hope we have left of meeting the 1.5ºC Paris Agreement ambition.

“We hope that these banks would finally listen to the voice of reason from the community of faith, in which some of their biggest clients and stakeholders,” he said.

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