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CSOs from across the Asian Region urge the ADB to stop financing false climate & energy solutions

Manila – Civil society groups from across Asia are condemning the Asian Development Bank’s Asia Clean Energy Forum 2022, hosted from June 14-17th, as failing to provide a platform for discussion about real climate and energy solutions grounded in science and the lived realities of the region’s diverse communities. To highlight critical concerns about the ADB’s proposed and current energy investments, a range of events are being organized online and in person by community groups and their allies.


Today, the NGO Forum on ADB is hosting an online press conference featuring representatives from groups based in Southeast and Central Asia and the Caucasus to speak about the need for the ADB to support decentralized, appropriately scaled, distributed variable renewable energy, and to pull back from sinking limited funds into risky resource intensive energy ventures that are neither clean nor just. In Manila, an in-person convergence will be coordinated by the Power 4 People (P4P) Coalition on the morning of June 17th, bringing together local and regional organizations united in the call issued to the ADB to stop financing false solutions. Details of the event location and timing will be disclosed separately.


“We recognize this year at ACEF, though the ADB has made an effort to focus on support for ‘green’ energy technologies, it has been dominated by private sector proponents and by discussions about technologies that are neither ‘clean’ nor economically, socially or environmentally sound. As civil society organizations mobilizing and organizing for a rights based, lasting, inclusive, just transition, we are adamant that power must be wrested in the public domain, ensuring meeting people’s’ rights to water, land, territory and other resources are not only prioritized, but set as non-negotiable,” explained Tanya Lee Roberts-Davis, Energy Campaigns and Policy Strategist with the NGO Forum on ADB.


Net-zero should not be misconceived as real-zero. Short-sighted technocratic fixes such as carbon capture schemes are not a substitute for simply making the rapid and needed shift to invest in forward looking clean energy sources. Meanwhile, we are concerned the highly touted Energy Transition Mechanism risks creating a situation whereby the public may be forced to accept a heavy toll on their health, the environment and climate, while coal companies will have the greenlight to continue to turn a profit over the course of several years during which the ADB and other donors sponsor the project’s retirement,” she continued.


As asserted by Yobel Putra, of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives-Asia Pacific: “ACEF 2022 is not getting better as it adds more false solutions to the list. For years, ADB has insisted that waste-to-energy incineration is a renewable energy source and a low-carbon solution. However, the world knows that plastic is on track to become a bigger climate problem than coal. Burning municipal solid waste — especially when it contains plastics — is dirtier than coal-fired power plant in every aspects. In addition to the highly toxic emission and ash, WTE incineration is amongst the dirtiest energy sources on the grid both in the U.S. and the E.U.. Substituting one form of dirty fossil fuel with another and claiming it as renewable is greenwashing. Worse, ADB’s suggestion to couple its climate harming projects with carbon capture technology is a huge distraction. Our time is running out, ADB should stop becoming a climate criminal before it is too late.


Andrey Ralev from CEE Bankwatch added: “The biodiversity and climate crisis can and must be addressed together. We fully support the upscaling of investments in renewable energy, but this should not be at the cost of biodiversity loss. The lack of strategic planning and cumulative impact assessment means that many hydro, wind and solar projects in the ADB pipeline are wrongly placed. The Zarafshan wind power project, for example, could lead to the extinction of the globally endangered saker falcon and Egyptian vulture.”


In the Philippines and Southeast Asia, the recent Financing a Fossil Future report from the Manila based think-tank Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED) found that ADB is among notable public financiers helping bankroll the fossil gas industry in the region since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015. Alarmingly, 84% of total financing for midstream gas projects mapped in the report were found to have been linked to public financial institutions. As Avril de Torres from CEED asserted: “It took 12 years for ADB to recognize that financing coal goes against the development it claims it wants to achieve for the Asia-Pacific region. By keeping the door open for fossil gas, however, ADB is sustaining its dirty energy legacy, merely switching from one fuel to another in dooming the region to climate catastrophe.”


“ADB is also forcing grave economic burdens on our people - spiking gas prices as exacerbated by the Russia-Ukraine war are a warning sign against massive fossil gas expansion, if we wish to veer away from vulnerability to volatile fuel costs. If it hopes to become a genuine climate and development bank, we see no other path for ADB to take than working with Asia-Pacific peoples to advance renewables," she concluded


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