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Climate activists protest as ADB holds annual meeting

Climate activists protest as ADB holds annual meeting,

call on ADB to stop financing gas and cancel public debts arising from its fossil fuel projects


A group of climate activists held a rally today in front of the headquarters of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) where the 55th Annual Meeting of the ADB is taking place. Carrying a giant symbol of a memo of Asian peoples’ demands, the protesters called on the multilateral bank to stop financing all fossil fuels and false solutions to the climate crisis, as well as cancel all public debts arising from ADB-funded fossil fuel projects. They issued the memo to a mockup image of ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa.


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 Asian Peoples Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD).


“We are also demanding that ADB cancel outstanding debts fossil fuels and other harmful projects. It should immediately start with canceling debts from coal projects. ADB has already acknowledged that coal power is harmful to people and planet and committed to stopping new coal lending. It sjould cancel outstanding loans from its past support for coal or convert these outstanding debts to grants for renewable energy. Staggering debt burdens continue to plague most developing countries and the impacts of these burdens are far worse during this time of the multiple crises of Covid, climate, and economic hardships,” added Nacpil.

Ian Rivera, coordinator of Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ) said ADB’s conditional funding of gas provides justification for gas infrastructure buildout and prevents the transition to clean, renewable energy systems in developing countries.


The bank’s new energy policy stopped financing for new coal projects, but 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% of its fossil fuel financing from 2016-2020.


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


“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.


According to Annabel Perreras, Project Data Analyst of NGO Forum on ADB, the current safeguards policy of ADB meant to protect the people from harm is up for review. “We continuously demand that the ADB develop strong safeguards now. There can be no genuine progressive safeguards policy while turning a blind eye to the situation of human rights defenders, laborers, and a private sector operating in secrecy."


As of April 2022, ADB has lent a total of $355.47 billion to Asian member countries as part of its cumulative loans, grants, equity investments, and technical assistance program commitments. India tops all countries with ADB loans and grants amounting to $57.65 billion. It finances 826 projects, including the Kolkata Environmental Improvement Investment Program that has displaced more than 300 small shopkeepers, and the Accelerating Infrastructure Investment Facility in Himachal Pradesh which violated labor policies.


“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,” said Atty Aaron Pedrosa of Sanlakas.


Pedrosa said these projects include 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.

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