As scientists of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have raised ‘code red for humanity’ alarm on the planet’s global warming dilemma, international civil society groups have been nudging the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to align its “New Energy Policy” with the goals of the Paris climate agreement.
On September 6 this year, the board of directors of the ADB, will discuss the proposed framework of the multilateral firm’s energy portfolio that will guide its lending program for the next five years.
The intensified plea of the civil society groups from South, Southeast and Central Asia, will be for ADB to stop financing energy projects leaning on fossil fuels – including those on coal, oil and gas; as well as large-scale hydropower projects that instigate social displacements.
They also noted that even technology deployments – such as those on coal-biomass co-firing for electricity generation; waste-to-energy ventures; biomass feedstock production that could result in denudation of forests; nuclear energy; as well as carbon capture and storage (CCS) – shall not be in the lending portfolio of the ADB.
According to Rayyan Hassan, executive director of the NGO Forum on ADB, “while the coal exit language has been retained, loopholes remain.”
He expounded that as it appears, “there is no stopping the ADB from supporting investments in coal via financial intermediary lending, or in transport and connectivity infrastructure that will enable further coal trade and extraction.”
The civil society groups also criticized what they perceived as ‘hastily rushed’ Energy Policy Working Paper of the ADB – because that was only given a two-week window for public review and input from August 16 to 31, before it was elevated to the bank’s board of directors for approval.
The civil society groups further indicated that “the draft energy policy veers dangerously towards promoting projects that will lock some of the most climate-vulnerable countries on the planet into a future dependent on large-scale power projects that threaten people’s livelihoods and health, while emitting heavy methane and other greenhouse gas emissions.”
Avril De Torres, environmental and energy lawyer of the Center for Energy, Ecology and Development (CEED)-Philippines, stated that “a 1.5-degree C aligned transition is an imperative for climate vulnerable Asia, and the IPCC made clear that this looks like: a swift end to our dependence on fossil fuels, not just coal.”
She stressed though that “ADB seems to be deaf to the IPCC’s climate code red, with its working paper still bent on churning more carbon and methane through dirty energy, especially fossil gas and false solutions like carbon capture.”
As further highlighted by Petra Kjell of United Kingdom-based Recourse, the ADB “has invested over US$6.0 billion in financial intermediaries, such as private equity funds and banks,” since its last Energy Policy that was enforced from 2009 to date.
She thus called on the bank to uphold transparency as to the names, sectors and locations of its high and medium-risk projects, “otherwise, no one will be able to track and monitor ADB’s fossil fuel commitments.”
Nora Sausmikat of Urgewald group based in Germany, similarly sounded off that it is time for ADB “to close all loopholes for facilitating fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure expansion.”
In her view, “only green hydrogen produced with renewable energy is sustainable and reduces carbon emissions.” ###