Energy and climate advocates hit the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for its doublespeak on clean energy, as the Bank hosts the Asian Clean Energy Forum (ACEF) with USAID and the Korean Energy Agency (KEA) in its Manila Headquarters.

“Despite its professed commitment to ‘clean energy’, ADB’s energy legacy remains to be its funding of fossil fuels, especially coal,” said Gerry Arances, Executive Director of the Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED). “To this day, coal-fired power plants in Masinloc, Zambales, in Naga, Cebu, and Calaca, Batangas remain in operation, with its negative effects on the health and livelihood of communities, its increasing cost, and decreasing reliability.”

Arances also criticized ADB’s co-organizers, USAID and KEA, as both the US and South Korea remain adamant supporters of coal despite its apparent endorsement of renewable energy sources. “The US remains a stumbling block for decarbonization, even backing out the Paris Agreement. Meanwhile, South Korea, which owns 51% of Korea Electric Power Corporation, is responsible for two coal power projects in Cebu alone and South Korea Engineering & Construction is proposing to set up and expand coal operations in the Quezon province.”

Fossil fuels incompatible with climate crisis, groups say “Governments and investors need to realize that coal is a sunset industry. Continuing to invest in coal-based power, given the current context of falling renewable energy costs and shifting policy landscape in response to the climate crisis, runs the risk of producing stranded assets,” said Zeena Manglinong, FDC Executive Director. “If this happens, and there is a great likelihood it will, ordinary citizens might end up paying for the losses associated with them. We must not forget that in the Philippines we are still paying for stranded debt and stranded contract costs under EPIRA,” she continued.

“ADB has to decide whether its part of the problem or part of the solution,” said Rayyan Hassan of the NGO Forum on the ADB. “ADB, which has been the largest coal financier in the region, has been claiming that it has not done any coal since 2013. But the truth is that ADB continues to also finance in fossil fuel related transmission infrastructure such as gas pipelines and railways leading to coal mines. It has also continued to proliferate gas power plants in the region especially in Myanmar and Bangladesh.”

“With expanding energy markets and investments unparalled in any region of the world, Asia holds now in balance the world’s future on climate change,” said Philippine Movement for Climate Justice Ian Rivera. “Asia is a region which is home to many climate vulnerable countries but also hosts governments welcoming dirty energy projects which further worsen the climate crisis,” said Rivera.

Governments should lead energy transition, not companies Rivera also hit the Duterte administration, particularly DOE Sec. Alfonso Cusi, for its continued support for coal projects and its continued belief in clean coal. “Despite yet another study has labeled the Philippines as the country most threatened by the climate crisis, not only has the administration rolled back in its participation in climate negotiations, it is also doubling down on its dirty energy policy.”

“ADB has no track record to speak with regards to shifting investments to expedite the end of fossil fuel. But time is not too late for this institution to become relevant. But our government cannot simply remain passive recipients or even active defenders of dirty energy investments. It is still the obligation of the Asian governments to push the swift energy transition,” he said.

The groups remain dissatisfied with the promised $7 Billion worth of “clean energy investments” from companies to be mobilized by the ADB and USAID, as per the agreement they signed last Tuesday.

“Public finance is being used to power dirty energy projects like coal plants and renewables are being left in the hands of the private sector,” said Sanlakas Secretary-General Atty. Aaron Pedrosa. “Without ensuring that renewable energy projects remain public in character, specifically by setting up community-based and community-owned renewable energy projects, ‘clean energy’ will still mean problems in accessibility and cost as it will still primarily serve profit,” Pedrosa continued.

“Not only do we demand from finance institutions and the ADB an immediate phase out of coal projects, we also call on the dedication of financing to renewables owned and managed by consumers themselves,” said CEED’s Gerry Arances. “Renewable energy’s transformative potential will be undermined if it is subject to the same conditions as fossil fuels, which failed to address the peoples’ energy and development needs.”

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