18 June 2019 Manila, Philippines. The Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) is holding its 14th Asia Clean Energy Forum (ACEF) this week from 17 – 21 June 2019. The NGO Forum on ADB along with its member partners demands the ADB to meaningfully act on the urgency of climate crisis in the Asia – Pacific. In 2018, multilateral development banks (MDBs) including the ADB created a joint framework for aligning their activities with respect to the goals of the Paris Agreement .
In ADB’s Strategy 2030 it has increased its committed operations supporting climate change mitigation and adaptation to 75% in 11 years time and set to prioritize investments for a low – carbon economy. “However despite this rhetoric, ADB’s deafening silence on retiring coal-fired power plants it had earlier funded in the region and banning financing for fossil fuels speaks in stark contrast with this commitment,” Annabel Perreras, Advocacy Coordinator, NGO Forum on ADB.
CSOs demand that ADB, as a standard bearer for other MDBs, should adopt stringent measures in accordance with the 1.5 degree pathway. According to Rayyan Hassan, Executive Director of NGO Forum on ADB, “In order for the Bank to demonstrate its commitment in unambiguous terms, it should have a time-bound phase-out plan for natural gas and intensify investments on renewable energy projects that are neither harmful to the environment nor to the affected communities.”
The Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ) has been calling out the ADB in exposing the “clean energy” myth of the Bank. The 600 MW coal-fired power plant in Masinloc, Zambales in the Philippines was tagged as a clean investment and was rehabilitated by the ADB. According to Ian Rivera, PMCJ National Coordinator, “The plant annually releases 3,766,177 mt of CO2 emission and while ADB claims that it is no longer funding coal, it should be held responsible for the harmful impacts that it had caused in hastening climate change and putting the lives of people at risk.”
“It is imperative for ADB to be true to their legacy, getting out of the business of dirty energy,” added Bernadette Zeena Manglinong, Women & Gender Coordinator of Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC).
Sreedhar Ramamurthi, NGO Forum on ADB International Convener and Executive Director of Environics Trust, India strongly stated that “ACEF has an important role in transforming the Asian energy portfolio. Asia is one of the most potential regions for further growth in energy consumption. The choice of a right path in the context of global climate and developmental impacts will be imminent”.
In a study made by E3G, the independent climate change think tank has pointed out that Southeast Asia is at the frontline of the global decarbonization challenge – and is lagging behind many other regions of the world . The region is experiencing rapid economic growth and increasing energy demand. “ADB should use its country-level work and its Country Partnership Strategies to be more proactive in supporting countries achieve the Paris Agreement compliant pathway,” according to Sonia Dunlop, E3G Senior Policy Advisor.
According to Gerry Arances, Executive Director of Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED), “It is high time for ADB to make use of decentralized renewable energy microgrids like in the case of the Philippines. These have been proven to be an effective alternative in providing clean, affordable and accessible electricity particularly among unelectrified and remote households, small island grids and impoverished communities and even in metropolis like Metro Manila where electricty prices is rising”
Lastly, CSOs demand that the ADB should start pursuing distributed renewable energy systems because it maximizes energy access and advances energy democracy. It is designed on the principle of doing no harm to the environment, supports local economies and contributes to the health and well-being of all people. By investing in distributed renewable energy systems, essentially this also contributes to fulfilling ADB’s commitment to improving governance and meet the Bank’s stated objective of ensuring energy access for all.
“ACEF should find and foster more finances, technologies, and skills for decentralized and people owned energy systems. That’s the need of the hour!” Ramamurthi ended.