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China lender urged to stop financing coal projects

/ 05:01 AM July 13, 2019

An international network of nongovernment organizations yesterday called on the Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) to stop providing funds to coal-fired power plants, saying the multilateral lender was working against its own climate change mitigation goals.

In a statement, the NGO Forum on ADB demanded that the AIIB produce an action plan “with clear and ambitious goals” that align with the Paris Agreement and the international drive to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

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Started in 1992, NGO Forum was intended to make the Japanese-led Asian Development Bank responsible and accountable for the impacts of its projects and policies. The scope has been expanded to include the China-led AIIB since the latter started operations in 2016.

AIIB data showed that China represented close to $30 billion in subscription to the bank, representing about 27 percent of total voting power. The Philippines has $979 million and one-percent voting power.

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Citing research by the Bank Information Center Europe, the NGO Forum—whose secretariat is based in Quezon City—said the AIIB has lent $1.6 billion for fossil fuel-related initiatives but only $660 million for renewable energy.

“All of the AIIB’s direct investments in fossil fuels support natural gas projects, responsible for greenhouse gas emissions, including from methane,” the group said.

“The AIIB should provide a road map for to shift direct and indirect investments from fossil fuels to renewable energy by 2020, including ruling out all financing for coal and any investment that would result in increased coal use,” it added.

Rayyan Hassan, executive director of NGO Forum, said the three-year-old AIIB has financed fossil fuel-related transmission infrastructure as well as gas power plants across the region, especially in Myanmar and Bangladesh.

“While AIIB has also invested in energy efficiency projects, there can be no halfway measures to achieve a Paris alignment to 1.5 degrees,” Hassan said. “The AIIB must commit to a time-bound phaseout plan from all forms of fossil fuel investments.”

The NGO Forum said it wanted AIIB to provide funds for energy projects that help people in a sustainable way, especially by scaling up support for decentralized renewable electricity and clean cooking solutions.

Even then, the group wanted to exclude from AIIB funding non-fossil fuel projects such as large dams and nuclear power plants. —RONNEL W. DOMINGO

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TAGS: AIIB, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, NGO Forum
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