Philippine groups reject ADB’s draft energy policy

October 18, 2021

Pro-environment activists on October 18 rally in front of the headquarters of the Asia Development Bank in Mandaluyong City to protest against its proposed energy policy. Photo supplied.

Civil society and pro-environment groups staged a demonstration outside the Asian Development Bank (ADB) headquarters in Manila on Monday, October 18, to show their opposition to the bank’s proposed new energy policy.

The groups warned the bank that it will be missing the critical 1.5 Celsius climate goal should it approve the “fossil fuel-friendly draft.”

A statement released by the group under the banner of the Power for People Coalition (P4P) noted that the ADB has allowed itself to be guided by an energy policy that “massively supported fossil fuel development in its member countries.”

The group warned that the bank might “inevitably repeat history and consign climate-vulnerable Asia-Pacific to catastrophe.”

The ADB’s board of directors is set to meet on October 20 to deliberate whether to approve or not its proposed energy policy, which activists earlier tagged as “unequivocally climate mis-aligned.”

Gerry Arances, lead convenor of the coalition, said there are loopholes in the proposed energy policy “big enough for ADB to cause its member countries and the world to lose the climate battle.”

“The possibility of coal financing slipping through intermediaries and of existing plants getting re-engineered for fossil gas hides behind the draft policy’s vague language,” he said.

Arances said the draft policy has “a coal buy-out scheme that risks becoming the lifeline of operating and proposed [fossil fuel] plants in need of financing.”

Luke Espiritu of the Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino said the proposed policy will plunge the “already poverty-stricken” Filipinos “to decades of high electricity costs and spiking fair rates.”

“It makes no sense for us Filipinos and fellow Asians to allow ADB to force upon us a future that is still powered by fossil fuels,” he said.

Last week, civil society groups in Asia lambasted the proposed policy, saying that it “undermines” the efforts to limit the rise in global temperature to 1.5 degree Celsius.

Provisions in the proposed policy allow the bank to continuously support and finance fossil gas projects.

It also included support for large-scale hydropower projects, large-scale waste to energy projects and large-scale biogas projects.

P4P called on the bank’s officials to “reject the current draft of the energy policy” and to take the opportunity to cease from financing dirty energy projects.

“In the face of the climate crisis, the call especially of climate vulnerable peoples for an end to the use of fossil fuels has never been more urgent,” the group said in a statement.

Based on a report released by ADB’s own Independent Evaluation Department, the bank’s “climate outcomes are not well tracked” and “investments in adaptation have not achieved their targets.”

It also indicated that the “strategic and institutional arrangements are not commensurate with the challenges to enable ADB to lead on climate action.”

The report recommended the development of “clear steps on how ADB will support ‘Developing Member Countries’ to transition away from fossil fuels and super-pollutants.”

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