ADB urged to rethink energy policy in developing Asia

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The Asian Development Bank (ADB) was urged to use its ongoing energy policy review to play a catalytic role in transforming the energy landscape of developing Asia, in consideration of rising global temperatures and the continuing effects on the economy and health brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED), an environment think-tank, which is part of the newly launched Fossil-Free ADB campaign led by civil society organizations and people’s movements from Asia, Europe, North America, and Australia, made the call.

The objective is to pressure ADB to end its financing and support for gas, coal and oil-based projects.

“ADB likes to paint itself as a climate-responsible bank with a heart for promoting resilience and sustainability in its member countries in Asia and the Pacific. A look at its portfolio in the past decade, however, proves the contrary, with the bank having provided the financial foundation for at least 14.2 GW of coal, fossil gas, and oil. Nearly half of all its power generation investments benefited fossil fuel projects,” explained Avril De Torres, Research, Policy, and Law Program Head of CEED.

Last year, CEED partnered with multi-national coalition NGO Forum on ADB to publish the study Leaving behind ADB’s Dirty Energy Legacy, which presents a critical review of the loopholes in ADB’s 2009 energy policy and its resulting carbon-intensive energy lending portfolio in the past decade.

 “ADB’s legacy is not characterized by clean energy, as it supposes, but by health and environmental degradation in communities host to coal and other dirty energy projects it funded, livelihoods lost to climate impacts and pollution, rising costs of electricity, and continued expansion of fossil fuels, especially fossil gas. When the COVID-19 pandemic came in, these existing energy conditions made coping and recovering all the more difficult for fossil fuel-powered developing nations like the Philippines. The bank’s ongoing policy review and updating, though already long-overdue, is an opportunity to begin righting its wrongs,” said De Torres.

ADB’s new draft energy policy is set to be made public in the next few months leading up to the Asia Clean Energy Forum in June.

“The ADB is at a crossroads. It could maintain and worsen its dirty energy legacy, or 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 especially in Asia, the last bastion of the fossil fuel industry. Advancing renewables is all the more crucial in the context of COVID-19, and ADB can help empower those most impacted by the pandemic and climate catastrophes in building an energy sector that hastens their recovery,” De Torres said.

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