The ADB has declared itself committed to helping its developing member countries achieve green energy access for all but the reality of investments shows a different picture. The ADB lags behind many other MDBs and bilateral development banks in aligning its energy finance to the Paris Agreement. 2021 provides an opportunity to push the ADB to overhaul its energy policy and demonstrate a real commitment to tackling sustainable renewable energy access and the energy transition. The ADB’s energy policy revision gives us an opportunity to build on the momentum from the successful EIB campaign, recent UK announcement, and upcoming COP 26 to establish the norm that climate leadership and energy transition require an end to fossil fuel financing. This campaign can also start to lay the groundwork for future campaigns to end fossil fuel financing by governments in the region.
Under its 2009 Energy Policy, ADB has been financing high-carbon development projects and strategies. The Energy Sector is its top investment sector in terms of committed resources (approximately USD 68,114 million) and third in terms of the number of funded projects (600 projects). Out of all the energy generation projects, only 19% are fossil fuel projects. However, when measured in terms of installed capacity, fossil fuels comprise 50% of all ADB-funded energy generation projects' total installed capacity in the past decade. At present, the ADB is considering amplifying its "Clean Energy" lending portfolio to USD 80 billion in the next ten years, according to former President Nakao. While these proclamations seem promising, unfortunately, these have limited application as ADB's definition of "clean energy" also includes supercritical and ultra-supercritical coal-fired power plants under the banner Clean Coal Technology (CCT), which claims to have less CO2 emissions.
The ADB continues to invest in dirty energy and fossil fuel using its outdated ADB 2009 Energy Policy, which has fossil fuel provisions, including coal and coal - related infrastructure. The IED evaluation recently concluded in 2020 also came up with the recommendation for a coal ban to the ADB energy lending portfolio, which is a critical piece in the narrative moving forward towards just transition.
Meanwhile, the NGO Forum on ADB ("Forum") consolidates its work since 2018 to remain vigilant and organize concerted effort with groups and coalitions worldwide to ensure fossil fuel exclusion, including coal and gas, in the ADB Energy Policy Review of 2020-2021. Recently, among the multilateral development banks (MDBs), the European Investment Bank (EIB) revealed a strategic shift in its energy lending policy, which essentially will pull the plug on all finance for infrastructure dedicated to coal, oil, and gas by the end of 2023.
With the recent Biden election win in the US, we expect to see a revival of US Climate ambitions, which is likely to cascade into MDB energy positions, including the ADB Board of Governors. Resonating this on-going momentum among the MDBs, civil society is also closely looking at 11.7% shareholding of the EU at ADB. If the EU position on coal exclusion stays true across their MDB portfolios, this is an effective leveraged as a strong position in the ADB Board for the upcoming ADB Energy Policy review.
We have the opportunity to influence the content of the energy policy which is currently being drafted. The draft policy will be circulated for internal review and to the board for their feedback before being publicly released in April. Public consultation is slated for April - June 2021. The policy is expected to be submitted for Board consideration from September - November 2021. This could potentially be delayed because of COVID-19.
As such, a concerted effort by the Forum is seen as a formidable force that can compel the Bank to attune its energy policy with the agenda of communities and civil society organizations campaigning for climate justice and towards clean, accessible, and affordable energy for all.
Purpose of the Conference:
The conference will provide an avenue where members and allies of the Forum can share their country positions, current campaigns on energy that may have a connection with the ADB directly or indirectly taking into consideration key events such as the ADB Annual Governors Meeting in May 2021 and Asia Clean Energy Forum in June 2021 and others.
By the end of the Campaign Conference, Forum members would have:
Identify on-going energy campaigns and advocacy in each country
Determine collaboration/synergy within country and sub-Asia region
Ascertain the most effective strategies for a well-coordinated energy campaign
Map out a plan for Regionally Coordinated Actions/Campaigns (Asia-wide)
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