New int’l coalition calls on ADB to stop fossil fuel financing

Staff Correspondent

4 March, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Civil society organizations and people's movements from Asia, Europe, North America, and Australia have launched a “Fossil Free ADB” campaign to pressure the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to end its financing and support for gas, coal and oil.

The international coalition in a statement on Wednesday called on ADB to use its energy policy review to demonstrate meaningful climate leadership and end its support for fossil fuels.

 The ADB is currently revising its 2009 energy policy, which will guide its investment decisions for the next decade. According to an ADB energy sector evaluation report, the “current policy is no longer adequately aligned with the global consensus on climate change.”

 Since its energy policy was released, the bank has spent roughly $10 billion on fossil fuel projects. It is ramping up its financing of fossil gas projects, such as the controversial Turkmenistan - Afghanistan - Pakistan - India gas pipeline.

It also funded the Rupsha 800 MW Combined Cycle Power Plant in Bangladesh despite its proximity to the river-systems of the Sundarbans mangrove Forest, threatening the livelihoods of about 1,500 fisherfolk communities, the coalition claimed. 

It said the ADB’s continued support for fossil fuels undermines its mission to achieve a “prosperous, sustainable, inclusive and resilient” Asia and the Pacific and undercuts its commitment to climate action.

 Fossil fuels are the single biggest source of global greenhouse gas emissions. Climate science shows that a rapid transition from fossil fuels is needed to limit global warming to 1.5°C and avert the most catastrophic impacts of the climate crisis.

Global fossil fuel production would need to decline annually by 6 percent between 2020 and 2030 to be consistent with a pathway to limit warming to 1.5ºC, according to the 2020 UNEP Production Gap report.

 in a letter, the Fossil Free ADB coalition calling for the Bank to align with what’s needed to limit warming to 1.5ºC and end its financing for all fossil fuels.

In recent months, governments in the UK, EU and US have made commitments to end their support for fossil fuel infrastructure both at home and abroad.

 “We cannot address the climate emergency while the ADB continues to fuel it with its fossil fuel financing. We need the ADB to stop harming communities with dirty fossil fuel projects,” the statement quoted Lidy Nacpil, Coordinator,  Asian Peoples' Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD), as saying.      “The ADB says gas is a clean energy source, but the gas life cycle generates significant emissions of methane which is more harmful to the climate than carbon dioxide. We need the ADB to invest in clean energy technologies like wind and solar to increase climate resiliency,” said Hassan Mehedi, Chief Executive, Coastal Livelihood and Environmental Action Network (CLEAN) in Bangladesh.

 “If the ADB is indeed committed to the Paris goal, it must stop supporting fossil fuels and withdraw its remaining investments in the current and pipelined fossil fuel-based projects.,” said Glenn Ymata, Energy Campaigner, NGO Forum on ADB.

 To rectify ADB's long-standing mistake, financing and investments should be channeled to rapid deployment of renewable energy projects. It must provide affordable energy to poor communities through smart microgrids and initiate a just transition strategy intended to increase human capacity and resiliency, the activist suggested.

“The climate crisis calls on the ADB to have an energy policy that is no less than fully aligned to the 1.5ºC Paris goal. This means having no false solutions, a clear and immediate end to its coal involvement, a phase-out plan for fossil gas and oil, and supporting a sustainably powered transition in its member countries,” said Avril De Torres, Research, Policy, and Law Program Head, Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED).

Advancing renewables especially in developing nations is all the more crucial in the context of COVID-19, and ADB can help empower communities most impacted by the pandemic and climate catastrophes in building an energy sector that hastens their recovery, Torres advised.

 “The ADB says it cares about climate action yet has spent billions investing in fossil fuels and has played a key role in expanding gas infrastructure in Asia. If the ADB is serious about climate action and fulfilling its mission, the bank must end its fossil fuel finance immediately,” said Susanne Wong, Senior Campaigner, Oil Change International.