FILIPINO climate activists called on the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to stop financing all fossil fuels and “false solutions” to the climate crisis and cancel all public debts arising from ADB-funded fossil fuel projects.

“We are protesting the ADB’s continued financing of fossil gas, which seriously imperils climate action. It is not enough for the ADB to end financing for new coal. It needs to stop financing for all fossil fuels,” said Lidy Nacpil, coordinator of the Asian Peoples Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD).

“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,” added Nacpil during a protest in time of the 55th Annual Meeting of the ADB in Manila.

In a statement, the APMDD leader maintained that while the bank’s new energy policy stopped financing for new coal projects, it allowed financing of gas projects in certain cases.

“It has spent over $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,” Nacpil said.

ADB’s financing of fossil fuel projects has largely been in the form of loans, which adds up to the debt burden of ADB’s developing member countries.

Lawyer Aaron Pedrosa of Sanlakas said that many projects funded by ADB loans “have buried peoples of the South in illegitimate debts and caused significant health risks, environmental destruction, and erosion of local livelihoods.”

Pedrosa cited the $900 million loan in 2013 for the 600-MW Jamshoro coal-fired power plant in Pakistan; the $400 million loan for the Tangguh Liquified Natural Gas Expansion in Indonesia, the country’s very first private sector project in oil and gas; the $500 million loan to build the Rupsha 800-Megawatt Combined Cycle Power Plant Project; and the $120 million loan-funded Visayas Base-Load Power Project, a 200-MW coal-fired power plant.

“Super typhoons and the pandemic have taught us that neglecting critical issues such as public health, energy access, and village-to-hospital infrastructure can lead to a massive human and capital cost. The ADB cannot pursue a pathway that remains bound to private profit in the name of development,” said Rayyan Hassan, executive director of NGO Forum on ADB.

Earlier, climate activists also held a lightning rally at Philippine Gas and LNG Investment Summit in Manila to denounce private companies' development of gas and LNG projects in the country and urged the transition to clean, renewable energy systems to address the climate crisis.

“We are reeling from the devastation of Typhoon Karding, and here you are investing in global warming, which will cause the death of people and the planet. We want investments in clean and renewable energy,” said Ian Rivera, National Coordinator of the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ). (SunStar Philippines)