Climate activists called on the Asian Development Bank on Thursday, September 29, to stop financing all fossil fuels and “false solutions” to the climate crisis, and to cancel all public debts arising from ADB-funded fossil fuel projects.
The call was made as the multilateral bank held its 55th annual meeting at the bank’s headquarters in Manila this week.
“We are protesting the ADB’s continued financing of fossil gas, which seriously imperils climate action,” said Lidy Nacpil, coordinator of the Asian Peoples Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD).
Nacpil said it is “not enough for the ADB to end financing for new coal,” but should also “stop financing for all fossil fuels.”
The activists, carrying a giant “memo of Asian peoples’ demands,” held a protest rally in front of the ADB headquarters.
“We also demand that ADB cancel outstanding debts from fossil fuels and other harmful projects. It should immediately start with canceling debts from coal projects,” said Nacpil in a statement.
She said ADB has already acknowledged that coal power is harmful to people and the planet and committed to stopping new coal lending.
“It should cancel outstanding loans from its past support for coal or convert these outstanding debts to grants for renewable energy,” said Nacpil.
Ian Rivera, coordinator of Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ), said ADB’s conditional funding of gas provides justification for gas infrastructure buildout and prevents the transition to clean, renewable energy systems in developing countries.
The bank’s new energy policy stopped financing for new coal projects, but allowed financing of gas projects in certain cases.
ADB has spent over US$4.7 billion on gas since the adoption of the Paris Agreement. Its gas finance accounts for over 96 percent of its fossil fuel financing from 2016-2020.
Meanwhile, Annabel Perreras, project data analyst of NGO Forum on ADB, said the current safeguards policy of ADB meant to protect the people from harm is up for review.
“We continuously demand that the ADB develop strong safeguards now. There can be no genuine progressive safeguards policy while turning a blind eye to the situation of human rights defenders, laborers, and a private sector operating in secrecy,” said Perreras.
As of April 2022, ADB has lent a total of US$355.47 billion to Asian member countries as part of its cumulative loans, grants, equity investments, and technical assistance program commitments.
India tops all countries with ADB loans and grants amounting to US$57.65 billion. It finances 826 projects, including the Kolkata Environmental Improvement Investment Program that has displaced more than 300 small shopkeepers, and the Accelerating Infrastructure Investment Facility in Himachal Pradesh which violated labor policies.