WFC frowns at PH banks’ continued financing of coal projects

Published April 22, 2021, 1:04 AM

by Ellson Quismorio

Philippine banks’ funding of local coal projects–considered a dirty energy source–remains at a high level, the civil society and church-backed campaign Withdraw from Coal (WFC) noted.

“Philippine banks would do well to use the rest of 2021 to enforce tipping points that will shift the landscape out of coal’s favor completely,” WFC said, as it urged the banks to “stop financing destructive energy from coal.”

It pointed out that the country is teeming with clean and affordable renewable energy (RE) sources that are just waiting to be tapped.

“By closing coal’s money pipeline and moving over to investing fully in clean power, we believe you can open the door to a sustainable future for all Filipinos, and influence all other banks to follow suit,” the group reckoned.

The WFC based its remarks on the April 2021 Coal Divestment Scorecard, which the group developed to help local banks and their stakeholders assess their exposure to coal and the accompanying risks and impacts of financing it.

Released Tuesday, April 20, the scorecard is an invitation to Philippine banks for continued engagement with their stakeholders to advance sustainability and climate ambitions and an encouragement to seize opportunities to “fast-track the country’s energy transition.”

The latest scorecard showed that the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) retained its position from last December with the highest exposure to coal, occupying the biggest share from the total loans and underwriting at 27 percent and 17 percent respectively.

Overall, BPI scored 3.80 out of 5, and has reportedly funded at least 15 coal plant projects and six coal developer companies.

BPI is followed by the Philippine National Bank (PNB) and BDO Unibank, which retain their ranks as the second and third top coal financiers in the country.

PNB (2.98 out of 5) has financed nine coal plants; while BDO (2.88 out of 5), the largest bank in the country, has financed at least 14 coal plants.

The WFC said they hope the scorecard would help the banks and their shareholders strongly consider “adopting more urgent coal divestment policies and taking climate action efforts aligned with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C temperature goal.”

Meanwhile, WFC has expressed optimism that the upcoming leadership change in BPI from outgoing President Cezar Consing to Jose Teodoro Limcaoco would herald a climate-and-ecologically-responsible new chapter for the bank.

It further hoped that its new president would make putting an end to coal financing his priority right from the start.