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Ensuring commitment

Energy advocacy and bank watchdog group Withdraw from Coal (WFC) reports that six Philippine banks continue to enable coal projects by either underwriting or selling bonds meant to finance such developments, turning their backs on commitments to stop coal funding.

“Banks have not quit coal despite their coal divestment policies,” WFC said.

Data collected from April 2021 to March 2022 showed that Unionbank, as well as the investment arms of BDO, China Bank, Metrobank, Security Bank and RCBC, participated in listed power firm AboitizPower’s bond issuances which were used to finance two coal projects. AboitizPower is described by WFC as the country’s second largest coal developer.

The report adds that state-run Land Bank was also identified as involved in selling two of the bonds, but it noted that it is accredited by the Green Climate Fund – a program that seeks to help developing countries reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change.

Gerry Arances, WFC co-convenor, said that these findings indicate that banks managed to “dodge being direct coal financiers by underwriting or selling bonds issued by coal developers.”

The report called for the loopholes to be closed and urged banks to have more transparent financing policies that disclose their participation in bonds intended for coal development.

WFC Convenor Bishop Gerry Alminaza also called on Philippine banks to fully divest from coal and stop channeling funds in fossil gas.

Coal divestment is considered as a first step to sustainable financing. The WFC recommends a fossil fuel divestment strategy which aligns with the world’s goal of keeping global temperature rise to below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The Philippines has committed to reduce its GHG emissions by 75 percent by 2030, according to its first nationally determined contribution submitted to the UN.

Hitting such goals will be difficult and it can only happen if everyone cooperates by doing everything possible to contribute instead simply of paying lip service while trying to exploit loopholes. Those who made commitments, such as the banks that were mentioned, will find it easier to comply if they see everyone else committing and pitching in to save the planet from mankind’s mistakes.*

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November 2022
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