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ADB’s Legacy is nothing but Climate Emergency

On the 3rd day of the Annual Governor’s Meeting, more than 200 civil society and community organizations across Asia belonging to NGO Forum on ADB told the Asian Development Bank that most of its programs and projects failed to meet its development promises in the region. “If there is one legacy that ADB has built through its decades of energy policy, that is ’climate emergency” Forum’s Executive Director Rayyan Hassan said in its statement.

Based on NGO Forum’s research, ADB has poured in US$43.3 billion over the last 10 years on energy projects. At least 68% (US$29.6 billion) of which went to loans and another 24% (US$10.4 billion) to investments on energy. Looking into the ADB’s energy portfolio, the Bank is heavily putting in monies to conventional and fossil-based energy systems. “Based on the records published by the ADB, US$ 5.3 billion were spent to construct or expand power plants fueled by coal, oil and gas.” Glenn Ymata, NGO Forum’s Energy Campaigner revealed. “If you examine carefully, ADB’s financial exposure on fossil-based energy systems could reach at least US$ 10 billion taking into account other similar projects disguised in the form of Energy Efficiency and Conservation, Sector Development and Institutional Reform, and Utility Services” added Ymata.

Emissions of principal greenhouse gases (GHGs) from Asia are increasing faster than those from any other continent. The largest anthropogenic source of CO2 emissions is the use of fossil fuels. Thus, energy generation and consumption is one of the most important sources of carbon emission and major driver of climate change. This prompted a number of countries to declare a climate emergency including the Philippines, Bangladesh, Maldives and even rich countries like Japan and South Korea in the Asia region.

According Statisca, the largest carbon dioxide (CO2) emitter in the world is Asia Pacific, where there was 17.27 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide emitted in 2019. In 2009, only 13.2 billion metric tons of CO2 was recorded.

The ADB’s appetite for funding fossil fuels and related infrastructure has a strong correlation with the continuing rise of temperature as a result of increased greenhouse house gas emissions in the region. It is unacceptable that ADB is not yet aligned to the Paris 1.5 goal and we want them to be resolute about their portfolio being absolutely fossil free and to do so immediately.” said Vidya Dinker of Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF).

While the ADB has promised to end funding coal projects, the region is not yet off the hook because the Bank is looking into gas investments to replace the Bank’s coal portfolio. Mehedi Hassan of Bangladesh Working Group on External Debt said “we are expecting more financing of gas projects by the ADB after they phase out of coal and we are afraid that Bangladesh will become the hot spot for gas projects in the next coming years.” Mehedi added. During the last 10 years, Bangladesh received US$ 3.5 billion of ADB loans for energy projects, the 4th largest next to India, Pakistan and China respectively.

To add to the fears of communities already severely affected by climate change is the ADB’s promotion of Waste-to-Energy (WtE) systems in its claim to support countries generate clean energy while solving the waste management problem. “Investment in thermal Waste-to-Energy systems is a waste of energy and money. It is a fact that thermal WtE (especially waste incinerator) is the most expensive way to manage waste and a very costly method of energy generation.” Said Yobel Putra of Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternative (GAIA). Scientific evidence has shown that thermal Waste-to-Energy is a dirtier source of energy than coal - making it a carbon-intensive investment. Despite well-publicized CSO concerns on this issue, ADB still affirms support for thermal WtE systems.

The ADB is yet to finalize its new energy policy that will guide the bank in defining its energy portfolio over the next ten years or so. But the big question has to come to fore. Given the ADB’s fossil-laden legacy, can the Bank show real climate leadership by decarbonizing its lending and investment strategy and withdraw all of its investments in fossil-based projects? Will ADB hold itself accountable for all the climate impacts and tragedies that destroyed communities in Asia?

For more information you may contact Glenn Ymata - 09178377625


The NGO Forum on ADB is a network of civil society organizations (CSOs) that has been monitoring the projects, programs, and policies of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

*** There is a CSO Panel Session on Reviewing ADB’s Energy Policy to Meet the Paris Goal of 1.5 Degrees Celsius today, May 05, 2021, from 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM (PHT), you can watch it here. This panel session is part of the ADB 54th Annual Meeting.


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