Green energy group urges Ayala: make ‘carbon neutrality’ happen in BPI, too

Withdraw from Coal (WFC) on Thursday chided the latest sustainability effort of business giant Ayala Corporation (AC) as welcome but not enough, as its finance footprints remain dirty thanks to the coal activities of the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI).


The call comes after AC major subsidiary Ayala Land, Inc. announced that it has achieved over 90% of its carbon neutrality target in its commercial properties.


“Shifting its buildings to renewable power, promoting energy efficiency, and planting trees are all well and good, but we are concerned that AC has no intention to take the step that would actually catalyze the radical reduction and eventual phase-out of fossil fuel power in the country, especially coal - which is to close its money pipeline. For as long as BPI, which is essentially AC’s finance arm, channels funds to dirty energy and makes no move to restrict its coal financing, AC is in no place to be touting climate or sustainability leadership,” said Gerry Arances, convenor of WFC.


AC owns at least 22.16% of all outstanding shares within the bank, with Ayala CEO Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala also serving as chairman of the BPI board of directors.


“For a company that owns nearly a quarter of a bank’s total shares and even sits at its top leadership position, AC has no excuse as to why it cannot also steer BPI towards a so-called ‘carbon neutrality’ by totally leaving coal in the past. We'd like Ayala to clarify too, of course, how exactly carbon neutral operations would look like, but from where it stands today BPI is definitely way off,” added Arances, who is also the Executive Director of think-tank Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED).


Last December, the green energy coalition of civil society groups, Church leaders, and faith formations unveiled a Coal Divestment Scorecard that assesses the coal finance exposure and policies of 15 Philippine banks found to have been funding the coal industry from 2009-2019. With $3.48 billion worth of loans and underwriting to coal projects and developers under its name, BPI was found to be the top domestic bank supporting the coal industry and hindering a swift clean energy transition in the country.


“Our organizations welcomed the announcement of its energy arm, AC Energy, that it intends to fully divest from coal - an announcement that none of its other competitors so far have been able to follow. Yet we are extremely disappointed that nearly a year later, AC’s sustainability and transition efforts have still made no impact in driving BPI away from coal. We hope it takes on the challenge of pushing a public no-coal policy within the bank especially as BPI’s annual meeting nears. That is something that we at WFC, and all other Filipinos concerned about protecting our people and planet from coal’s deadly impacts, will be ready to welcome,” said long-term clean energy advocate Bishop Gerardo Alminaza, co-convenor of WFC and bishop of the Diocese of San Carlos.


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