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Decarbonize ADB Campaign Gains Momentum

Updated: Jan 6, 2019

The community-driven campaign to Decarbonize ADB led by the Forum took a major step forward with ADB Energy Sector Chief Yongping Zhai issuing a public statement and commentary published in the VietNews. In direct response to the Forum’s Oct 17 demand for ADB to stop funding climate change, with leadership from affected people’s spotlighting the continued energy policy that permits investments in dirty coal, Mr. Zhai has signaled a major shift toward a sustainable clean energy future.

After 50 years of relentless investments in dirty coal projects despite local opposition from affected peoples and civil society organizations, The Forum applauds the pivot away from dirty coal from a top-level ADB official. The Forum encourages an immediate and moratorium on coal, in order to consider formal changes in the 2009 ADB Energy Policy and ADB’s Strategy 2030 to formally end all coal-related investments.

“Solving climate change requires ADB to divest entirely from coal and other fossil fuel financing, and set forth a clear transition plan to sustainable and socially acceptable renewable energy projects,” says Rayyan Hassan, Executive Director of the NGO Forum on ADB. “ADB’s total financing for coal projects is estimated at over $10 billion USD from 2009 to 2017, one of the highest investments in the world,” adding “current ADB policy language points to increased investment in private-sector operations that can be a backdoor to dirty coal projects that lack transparency and safeguards”.

Joseph Santos-Lyons, NGO Forum’s Policy Coordinator for ADB stated that: “This is a significant step by ADB towards the principles of our Decarbonize ADB campaign, that if upheld, will mean better health and a decrease in toxic global warming emissions that will benefit the most vulnerable in our region.” “Our communities and our world frankly need a complete shift from all fossil fuels, and are concerned about plans for new dirty natural gas power plants.”

While ADB’s announcement is a step in the right direction, the NGO Forum is concerned about the increase in private sector lending that risks undermining ADB’s own social protection safeguards. There also needs to be a more robust analysis and consideration of the impacts involving ADB clean technology fund investments due to their poor track record engaging local communities and meeting environmental and involuntary resettlement safeguards.

“Climate change disproportionately impacts the poorest and the most vulnerable as they struggle with more intense and frequent storms, floods, droughts, and the destruction of agricultural and sacred homelands,” says Sreedhar Ramamuthi of Environics Trust, a grassroots organization based in New Delhi, India.

Analysis by think-tank E3G based on 2015-16 data found that ADB is still investing slightly more in fossil fuel projects than green energy. On overall alignment with the goals of the Paris Agreement, it ranked ADB fourth out of six major development banks.


Joseph Santos Lyons is the Policy Coordinator on ADB of NGO Forum on ADB, you may reach him via his email


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