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Philippine green activists, civil society urge ADB to end support for dirty energy

ADB has allegedly “opted to help build now thriving carbon-intensive energy systems" that cause global temperature rise

Civil society and pro-environment groups held a demonstration outside the Asian Development Bank (ADB) headquarters in Manila on May 5 to call for an end to what they described as the bank’s “dirty energy legacy.”

The groups, with mockups of emergency lights on vans and clothed in personal protective equipment, hit the “bank’s role in bringing about the climate emergency and ecological challenges” through its “dirty investments.”

Gerry Arances, convenor of the Power for People Coalition, said that in recent years the bank “opted to help build now thriving carbon-intensive energy systems in its member countries.”

“This comes at the cost of the health, lives, and livelihood of many communities, and of the now very slim possibility of limiting global temperature rise to the 1.5°C Paris goal,” said Arances.

“We need ADB to live up to its name and actually help foster sustainable Asian development, which is the kind of development Asia needs,” he added.

On May 5, ADB ended its annual meeting and was expected to release its draft updated Energy Policy.

The bank has earlier said that economies in Southeast Asia can create up to 30 million new jobs through 2030 if they invest more in green growth opportunities.

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In a report, the bank said countries in the region should pursue “green opportunities in agriculture, oceans, urban and transport systems, circular economy practices, and clean energy.”

At a webinar during the 54th Annual Meeting of the ADB Board of Governors, the bank’s chief economist, Yasuyuki Sawada, said governments can also focus on improving their digital economy to enable green and more inclusive growth.

Earlier, Philippine Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III urged developed nations to honor their pledges under the Paris agreement, wherein they’ll support lower-income nations in their transition to a more sustainable economy.

As part of the Paris outcome, developed countries are urged to scale up their level of support by mobilizing US$100 billion per year starting 2020 for climate action for developing nations.

Arances, however, said the bank’s “clean energy agenda” is just “all talk.” He noted that coal and other fossil fuels comprise at least half of the energy generation capacity ADB financed in the past ten years.

Activists, with mockups of emergency lights on vans and clothed in personal protective equipment, stage a demonstration outside the headquarters of the Asian Development Bank in Manila to highlight the bank’s alleged role in bringing about the climate emergency and ecological challenges in the region. (Contributed photo)

“ADB needs to correct that, beginning by officially declaring a moratorium on financing coal and setting a phase-out timeline for its fossil gas investments, channelling the bank’s resources instead to systems that would benefit communities most in need, such as microgrids,” he said.

Rayyan Hassan, NGO Forum on ADB executive director, said the bank must use its ongoing Energy Policy updating as opportunity to establish its sustainable development and climate action leadership among other multilateral development banks.

“ADB’s 2009 Energy Policy is draconian and outdated, and we could not wait for it to be replaced with a policy that has a resolute stand against fossil fuels and other destructive energy technologies like thermal waste-to-energy and destructive large-scale hydroplants,” said Hassan.

The Forum has been actively engaging the bank in the evaluation of the 2009 policy and is key in amplifying voices from affected communities across Asia to the bank’s leadership.

“ADB surely would not want to be remembered simply as the bank that failed to properly assess and support Asia’s energy and development needs, whose investments helped turn it instead into a highly polluted, debt-ridden, and poverty-laden region,” said Hassan.

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