Civil society and faith groups led Withdraw from Coal (WFC) asked the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) to publicize its policy on coal financing and become the 'gold standard in climate and sustainability action', in a letter shared to media Saturday.
Co-convenors of the group Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of the Diocese of San Carlos and Executive Director Gerry Arances of the Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED) wrote to DBP President Emmanuel Herbosa and the bank's Management calling for the disclosure of the board-approved policy that stopped DBP from funding any more coal projects from 2017 onwards. The said internal policy was earlier mentioned by DBP representatives in meetings with WFC, and was cited in a self-assessment report uploaded in the bank's offcial website just last month.
"We write to urge DBP to publicly disclose this policy on coal, and become one of the first banks in the Philippines to have a clear position against this destructive energy source. By doing so, the Bank would be sending a clear message that environmentally responsible investment decisions by financial institutions are indeed possible and viable," the group said in their letter.
According to the group, a public policy on coal by the state-owned bank would solidify the standing commitments by different government, including the marching orders of President Duterte to advance renewable energy in 2019 and the moratorium on new coal projects by the Department of Energy. It, too, would ease concerns on implications of its coal exposure to its ongoing application for accreditation with the Green Climate Fund (GCF) as one of only three finance bodies nominated for direct access to the fund on behalf of the Philippines.
"DBP is already pursuing many commendable efforts to align to climate ambitions and promote an ecologically supportive development path for the Filipino people - a most notable one among which is its application for accreditation by the Green Climate Fund (GCF)...We are concerned, however, that its history of coal exposure from 2010 - 2016 would pose challenges to the progress of DBP's accreditation process," the letter read.
GCF is a climate finance infrastructure which civil society has engaged for years to ensure that it would benefit Filipinos. Citing the experience of Japanese bank SMBC last year wherein it was forced to withdraw and reapply for accreditation with GCF after being questioned for its exposure to coal, WFC expressed worry that the local bank would be met with the same opposition.
"As it is an imperative to urgently build the Philippines' climate resilience and strengthen its mitigation efforts, it is in the best interest of Filipinos to be granted immediate access to GCF. Publicizing its coal policy, we believe, will help reduce risks of civil society opposition to this process, despite existing public records of DBP's involvement with coal," the letter said, noting that the group will be ready to rally behind DBP when this happens.
"DBP has already vowed to withdraw from coal internally, years before any other local bank was able to follow suit with a similarly ambitious commitment. The Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation promised in December 2020 to no longer fund coal, yet it, to date, is still in the process of crafting and finalizing its policy. We strongly urge DBP to consider being the herald to a new phase for sustainable finance and the Philippine energy landscape by publicly declaring its intention to leave coal behind," the letter concluded.
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