Next admin called to accelerate energy transition


An energy advocacy coalition has challenged the incoming administration to establish mechanisms to help accelerate the country’s energy transition and to commit to “ambitious climate goals.” 

This comes as Withdraw from Coal (WFC) raised concerns over local banks that have yet to stop funding coal-fired power plant projects. In its 2022 Scorecard report, WFC said that there are banks that still finance coal projects by underwriting or selling bonds issued by coal developers even after five banks had “public stances against coal.” 

“We need to fix this disconnect between domestic banks’ no-coal stance with the reality of their financing activities. The findings of the report show us that banks managed to dodge being direct coal financiers by underwriting or selling bonds issued by coal developers. Banks cannot trick us into believing that they are truly divesting from coal unless they close this loophole of funneling funds through bonds,” WFC co-convenor Gerry Arances said. 

WFC said that BDO Unibank, Chinabank, Metrobank, Security Bank, Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) and Unionbank are involved in bond issuances for coal with Aboitiz Power Corporation. 

Last year, BDO said that it is open to funding renewable energy and nuclear energy projects, while RCBC said that it would stop funding coal projects by 2031. Unionbank and AboitizPower, meanwhile, are sister companies.

“We will sustain our action to demand drastic ecological economic transformation of financial institutions. Investing more in sustainability where no one is left behind is the right way forward. We enjoin everyone to continuously pressure our banks to divest from dirty products and services. It is not only a duty as citizens of this planet but a moral responsibility,” Living Laudato Si’ Philippines executive director Rodne Galicha said.

The group is also alarmed at the upsurge of banks investing in fossil gas, specifically liquefied natural gas (LNG), which has been touted by energy companies as a transition fuel. WFC particularly cited Atlantic Gulf & Pacific’s (AG&P) LNG import facility in Ilijan, Batangas City, which is being funded by Chinabank and government-run Development Bank of the Philippines. 

“This proposed facility is seen to have grave socio-economic and environmental impacts in Batangas, including the Verde Island Passage, considered to be the world’s center of marine shorefish biodiversity,” WFC said. 

“We call for banks to totally divest from coal and cease to invest in the equally climate-destructive energy source that is fossil gas. Opening up the economy to gas projects is at odds with our climate targets,” said San Carlos Bishop and WFC convenor Gerry Alminaza.

The bishop and several communities are battling against SMC Global Power Holdings’ 300-megawatt LNG power plant project in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental.

Last year, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas called on banks to support the country’s energy transition after the Asian Development Bank and the Philippine government launched its partnership for the energy transition mechanism at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in the United Kingdom

In late 2020, the Department of Energy  declared a moratorium on the building of new coal plants.