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CSOs Criticize Corporate Influence and Technofixesat ACEF 2024

Updated: Jun 8

Manila, 3 June 2024  – The Asia Clean Energy Forum (ACEF) 2024 hosted by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) is underway amid escalating climate challenges and economic pressures across low- and middle-income countries in the region. This year's forum, however, is drawing significant criticism from NGO Forum on ADB, Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), Asian Peoples Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD), Center for Energy, Ecology and Development (CEED), Coalition for Human Rights in Development (CHRD), EcoWaste Coalition, Freedom from Debt Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRC-KSK), Philippine Legislators' Committee on Population and Development, Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ), Recourse,, and together with other organizations of the Philippine Working Group, argue that the event is more focused on advancing corporate interests than addressing the urgent need for equitable and sustainable climate solutions.

The Asia Pacific region has faced unprecedented heat waves and severe economic strain in 2024, exacerbated by the lingering effects of the pandemic and ongoing geopolitical conflicts. Communities, respected leaders, and advocates from various sectors have been steadfastly opposing the expansion of fossil gas infrastructure, the damming of rivers, destructive geothermal drilling, and waste incineration. They emphasize the intergenerational harms and losses these projects entail.

Despite the critical need for climate responsibility and affordable renewable energy access, the ACEF 2024 program appears to prioritize the interests of private companies historically responsible for greenhouse gas emissions and environmental damage. Notably, the forum's opening plenary will feature senior management from Japan’s Marubeni and representatives from Keppel, both known for their support of fossil fuel projects.

ADB’s call for “quick win” solutions seems designed to benefit corporations rather than addressing the realities of planetary boundaries and the needs of marginalized communities. The absence of discussions on environmental and social governance further highlights the neglect of human and environmental rights in ADB’s energy investments, particularly in authoritarian and restrictive regimes.

ACEF 2024's promotion of carbon removal technologies such as Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage (CCUS) and emerging fuel mixes like green hydrogen has raised alarms. These technologies, often touted as solutions, have failed to deliver substantial reductions in carbon emissions and pose significant risks to local communities and ecosystems.

The forum also spotlights large hydropower projects and waste-to-energy incineration, both of which have been criticized for their environmental impact and unsustainable nature. Civil society groups argue that these approaches divert attention from genuinely sustainable solutions like decentralized, non-fossil fuel energy.

Concerns extend to ADB’s policy-based loans and sessions promoting reliance on liquefied natural gas (LNG), ammonia, hydrogen, and CCUS. These sessions, in partnership with Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and the Korea Energy Agency, are seen as further entrenching dirty energy futures in Asia.

For the first time, ACEF 2024 will spotlight the critical minerals sector. Rather than addressing the human and environmental rights violations associated with mining, the forum paints an overly positive picture of countries like the Philippines, Indonesia, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan as key players in global value chains. Civil society groups warn against expanding mining operations that threaten local communities’ survival.

For nearly two decades, ACEF has facilitated a contentious consensus-building among private sector entities in the regional energy landscape. The promises of clean and affordable energy often mask the challenges of achieving a robust, just, equitable, and rights-based energy transition. Civil society groups urge ADB and other financial institutions to shift focus towards genuinely sustainable renewable energy solutions, rather than profit-driven technofixes.

As the impacts of climate change intensify, it is imperative that ADB and other global financial institutions are held accountable for historical and ongoing environmental and social harms. Forum network and allies call for an overhaul of the key policy initiatives discussed at ACEF 2024. With the upcoming Mid Term Energy Policy Review of the ADB, the CSOs call for an end to ADBs false solutions towards Just Transition and demand a full phase out from fossil fuels especially gas, and all forms of financing for coal. 

  • We maintain that the ADB’s “climate-smart mining” ignores the negative impacts in mining-affected communities and that supply chains are not properly assessed. For instance, while the Green Climate Fund is investing heavily in e-mobility, sources of EV batteries are causing widespread destruction. 

On a more practical level, there is an urgent need to develop and implement a robust and expanded cost-benefit analysis (CBA)  of mining projects. These should incorporate the social and environmental costs as well as the impact to health and human rights brought about by the extractives industry. Unless these are determined and the impacts to the communities are considered more than the interests of profiteering corporations, there will only be more false solutions to the climate crisis.  We ask the public to join us in rejecting ADB’s techno fixes and their attempts to greenwash destructive mining operations.

Jaybee Garganera, National Coordinator

Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM)

  • We call on ACEF delegates to push for the implementation of policies for rapid, equitable, and just transition to 100% renewable sources of power by 2050 and do away with false solutions and technologies. Fossil fuel corporations and other ACEF participants are still putting false solutions on the table, such as hydrogen, carbon capture utilization and storage, ammonia, and promoting gas as a transition fuel. These are dirty sources of energy that only serve to entrench fossil fuels and continue to profit from them, ultimately delaying the clean energy transition.  

Lidy Nacpil, Coordinator

Asian Peoples Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD)

  • It is deeply disturbing that the organizers of the ACEF 2024 led by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) continue to promote energy sector investments that will not only delay our transition to renewable energy systems, but also mire our countries even deeper into debt. At this point, the idea of leveraging public funds to support continued investment in projects that only sidetrack us from our goal of a full transition away from fossil fuels is completely unacceptable.  In a country such as the Philippines, which is at the frontlines of climate change impacts, while also suffering from record levels of debt, to have these concerns completely ignored by a gathering that is held here every year, is nothing less than a slap in the face.

Rovik Obanil, Secretary General 

Freedom from Debt Coalition

  • The clean energy transition must not be justice-blind to the impacts of dirty technologies to people and the environment. We call on the ADB, international financial institutions, government agencies, and all energy investors to stop funding waste-to-energy incineration, refuse-derived fuel, carbon capture utilization and storage, coal co-firing, and other false solutions to waste and climate change. The fact that affected communities, informal sector workers, public transport workers, and civil society organizations are not identified as target participants in the ACEF is very telling of where investment priorities lie. A true clean and just energy transition must be inclusive, and recognize the solutions led by people and communities that are already producing positive impacts.

Miriam Azurin, Asia Pacific Deputy Director

Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA)

  • The current corporate-led approach to clean energy may exacerbate inequalities, as Indigenous communities often suffer the most from environmental damage, such as the exploitation of ancestral land, natural resources and water and lack of access to clean energy solutions.It is crucial to ensure fair access to clean energy for a smooth transition.  Decision- making process should involve Indigenous peoples’ more. Empowering IPs can result in more inclusive and sustainable energy solutions. A comprehensive approach that combines technology, social and policy measures is crucial. There is a need for a comprehensive strategy that tackles the root causes of climate change and promotes sustainable development. 

Indira Shreesh, Founding member and Chairperson

Indigenous Women Legal Awareness Group (INWOLAG)

  • Clean energy could very well leave a huge negative environmental and social footprint. Renewable energy projects must always have a sustainability dimension, so as to avoid further harms to the environment and communities. Crucially, where these projects can be found in ancestral lands, the right to self-determination of indigenous peoples must be upheld and not be sacrificed to the transition. We are sounding off the exponential demand for energy transition minerals, half of which reserves are projected to be mined in ancestral lands. It will be the supreme irony that the energy transition shall also result in unabated mining, which often has irreversible deleterious effects on people and nature.

Maya Quirino, Advocacy Coordinator

Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRC-KSK)

  • As the impacts of climate change intensify, it is imperative that ADB and other global financial institutions are held accountable for historical and ongoing environmental and social harms. Forum network and allies call for an overhaul of the key policy initiatives discussed at ACEF 2024. With the upcoming Mid Term Energy Policy Review of the ADB, the NGO Forum on ADB and its allies call for an end to ADBs false solutions towards Just Transition and demand a full phase out from fossil fuels especially gas and all forms of financing for coal. 

Rayyan Hassan, Executive Director

NGO Forum on ADB

  • We don’t have any more time for false solutions that tie us to fossil fuels. We call on the ADB to withdraw financing of all fossil fuel projects, and instead invest in a just–not only clean–transition to renewable energy. We need enough resources to ensure that people and the environment can recover, and will be put front and center as we shift to renewables.

This means that polluter countries also need to pay climate reparations to countries bearing the brunt of the climate crisis, like us. ADB is accountable for this, too, for funding coal projects in the Philippines. We need concrete solutions now, starting with the payment of this huge historical debt.

Erwin Puhawan, Luzon Coordinator

Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ)

  • There is no room for false solutions such as carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) and co-firing of power stations which further extends the use of fossil fuels if we are to keep global temperature rise within the 1.5C trajectory.  Extreme caution must be exercised by MDBs in supporting green hydrogen as its production can lead to displacement of communities from their lands and livelihoods, and can compete with freshwater needs.The energy transition should be designed with and aim to benefit the communities who had done least to cause climate change, including women and indigenous peoples. 

Alison Doig, Senior Advisor


  • Heading into 2030, balancing equity, urgency, and ambition in our energy transformation is essential. It's time to ditch harmful energy, invest in renewables, and ensure transparency and community involvement. This isn’t just about hitting Paris Agreement targets—it's about redefining our development pathway for a thriving future. The climate movement must lead the charge, using bold actions to expose the myth that fossil fuels are necessary for progress. Decarbonization is not only possible; it's the key to justice and sustainability. Let’s redirect resources towards a clean energy economy that empowers communities and prioritizes the planet over profits. The Asian Development Bank's commitment to renewables is crucial for reshaping Asia’s energy landscape and driving us towards a fossil-free future.

Chuck Baclagon, Finance Campaigner Asia


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