Philippine groups urge US Bankers to abandon fossil gas investments

June 27, 2023

Sustainable energy advocates in the Philippines have encouraged prominent banks in the United States to shift their investments from fossil gas to renewable energy. 

The advocates recently held a meeting with Blackrock, Citigroup, and Morgan Stanley – three renowned investment giants in the US.

Blackrock alone has a staggering $61 million in San Miguel Corporation (SMC), the largest proponent of gas projects in Southeast Asia.

Gerry Arances, executive director of the Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development, said the meeting has resulted in “exciting developments” that “rebut the narrative of gas being necessary for the transition to renewable energy.”

He pointed out that the Philippines is set to introduce over 13 GW of new renewable energy in the coming years through the Green Energy Auction Program, in conjunction with improved battery technologies. 

“The upcoming auction will offer a total capacity of over 11 GW in renewable energy, with 3,600 for 2024; 3,600 for 2025; and 4,400 for 2026,” he said.

“Tapping renewables will be much more beneficial to consumers than any fossil fuel – the price of renewables in this auction are two or three times less than prices projected for electricity from fossil gas and liquefied natural gas,” said Arances.

Arances commended SMC for its innovative battery technologies that enhance electricity storage from renewable energy sources. However, he criticized the company for heavily promoting dirty energy, which far outweighs its efforts in renewable energy.

“Its massive promotion of fossil gas, LNG, and even coal far eclipses all its renewable energy efforts,” he said.

The proposed and existing gas projects of SMC, as well as its investments in other fossil fuels, continue to provoke the ire of advocates. 

Fr. Edwin Gariguez, the lead convenor of Protect VIP (Verde Island Passage), expressed concern over one of SMC’s subsidiaries that chartered a vessel involved in an oil leak that has been polluting the passage. 

The priest accused SMC of evading responsibility for the ecological disaster.

Gariguez said SMC’s gas projects will cause more tankers to pass through the area, “increasing the chances of another, bigger spill in the future”.

Advocates are now urging US firms to redirect their investments toward renewable energy. Blackrock, the largest US investor of Shell, has injected $23.4 billion into the fossil fuel giant, which operates an LNG import terminal in Batangas for SMC’s Ilijan plant.

Arances said there are potential financial gains in the renewable energy sector. He said such investments would not be tarnished by the pollution caused by oil spills or contribute to the suffering of those vulnerable to climate change.

“Our tour is intended to reach out to investors who can force companies like SMC to change and focus on renewables. On this, we hope we are successful, for all our sakes,” said Arances.

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