The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank’s (AIIB) 2nd Annual Governors’ Meeting kicked off today in Jeju Island, South Korea. CSO representatives from NGO Forum on ADB are keen on making the bank fulfill its promise of being “Lean, Clean and Green”. During the Governors’ Seminar on Sustainable Infrastructure, one of its speakers, Lord Stern Nicholas from London School of Economics stated that this is the era where ‘Investments should be about decarbonizing and moving towards renewable energy’. He also added his view on coal being inefficient and leads to pollution, and that the ‘environmental and human cost should be taken into consideration before any future investment in coal’. Incidentally, the AIIB’s approved Energy Strategy was released to the public via the Bank’s website where NGO Forum on ADB has been explicit in its reservations on AIIB’s continuing interest to support coal and fossil fuel in energy projects.
Mr. Hemantha Withanage from Friends of the Earth Asia Pacific/CEJ-Sri Lanka posed a very significant question ‘Why is the AIIB still looking to support coal when renewable energy is becoming so cheaper and when the countries must decarbonize by 2030 considering the very little carbon budget available to keep the temperature rise below 2 degrees?‘ During the Opening Ceremony of the 2nd Annual Meeting, AIIB President Jin Liqun made especially mention to the bank's position on coal, saying that ‘there is no coal project in the pipeline.’ He also made mention of the application of rigorous social and environmental standards for any exceptional case of coal project investment. NGO Forum on ADB welcomes President Jin Liqun’s statement on coal yet the network expressed its concern that this still not a full ban on coal. AIIB through its Energy Strategy still retains a loophole for further financing fossil fuel including coal as per paragraph 37 of the AIIB Energy Strategy.
In the same light, Ms. Luz Julieta Ligthart, policy coordinator for AIIB of NGO Forum on ADB commented ‘in the whole equation of these investments on energy; AIIB providing the funds and borrowing countries dealing their own issues, what is very much lacking is the final recipients, these are the vulnerable communities and marginalized sectors, who are going to get the brunt of the impacts of these projects ‘.
Rayyan Hassan, Executive Director of the NGO Forum on ADB stated that ‘poor and vulnerable countries cannot be used as a scapegoat by MDBs including AIIB to justify dirty energy investments. The access to energy by the rural poor is, therefore, a question of connectivity, energy efficiency and upgrade of grid systems, and more outreach of renewable energy technologies such as solar and not a question of fossil fuel energy investment’. NGO Forum on ADB will continue to be the voice of communities from across the region demanding transparency and accountability of AIIB and its operations.