Ahead of Earth Day Celebration, energy advocacy and bank watchdog group Withdraw from Coal: End Fossil Fuels (WFC-ECC, formerly Withdraw from Coal) launched its latest report, 2023 Fossil Fuel Divestment Scorecard, which highlights the continued funding of coal and financing of new fossil gas projects which signals a detour away from renewable energy transition.

BPI, BDO, Metrobank, Security Bank, Philippine National Bank, and China Bank are the top banks most exposed to fossil fuel financing, with BPI cementing its top position for the fourth straight year.

BDO’s fossil gas activities bumped it to second place while Metrobank’s exposure to Aboitiz’s bonds and increase in fossil fuel exposure finds itself at the third spot.

According to the report, “As of March 2023, the total amount financed by Philippine banks for coal-related activities and projects reached USD 867.08 million for April 2022 to March 2023, with the majority through bonds underwriting of around USD 594 million while the rest are from loans. Meanwhile, financing for the expansion of new fossil gas projects registered USD 930 million for this scorecard period.”

“The report makes it clear that domestic banks have poured millions of dollars into the fossil fuel industry despite pronouncements and pledges. The remarkable shift from loans to bonds is what facilitates continued fossil fuel investments. Banks must realize that every time they underwrite or facilitate a toxic bond, they have a direct hand in the worsening impacts of the climate crisis,” said Avril de Torres, Deputy Executive Director of Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED), a convenor of WFC-EFF.

The 2023 scorecard takes into account for the first time the exposure of domestic banks to the fossil gas industry. The new criteria greatly affected BPI, the top coal financier, which has now doubled its dirty energy exposure while BDO emerged as the top fossil gas financier.

The report cites that “Despite the dwindling indigenous fuel supply, there are currently 34 proposed fossil gas and LNG power plants, totaling 37,493 MW. In anticipation of the need to import the fuel because of Malampaya gas field’s inevitable depletion, 11 new LNG import terminals are also being proposed.”

“The scorecard is a reflection of the financial environment in which fossil fuels thrive. Philippine banks can expect that they will continue to take the brunt of the growing global campaign pressuring banks to end their massive and ongoing financing of fossil fuels. It is never too late for banks to reinvent radically and urgently to provide hope to humanity in our battle against the climate crisis,” added Jing Henderson, Head of Communications and Partnerships and National Ecology office of Caritas Philippines.

San Carlos Bishop Gerry Alminaza, Convenor of WFC-EFF added that the campaign to assist banks to divest from fossil fuels has seen significant changes from the banking sector through the years.

“In the last three years, we saw the number of domestic banks having some level of restriction or announced positions on limiting or moving away from financing for coal rise from zero to six by this year’s scoring period – a feat we could not have imagined when we started this journey. This is the result of communities and civic movements’ unrelenting push to protect our people and our Common Home from any more damage from coal,” said San Carlos Bishop Gerry Alminaza, Convenor of WFC-EFF.

WFC-EFF urged banks to abandon fossil gas and coal plans, develop and fully implement policies and mechanisms to reach climate ambitions, and intensify their renewable energy investments.

“Today, the need to phase out all fossil fuels has become even starker. The community of world scientists in the IPCC released just last month its latest report, which reveals that the window of time we still have to keep alive the 1.5°C Paris goal and the chance of generations to come to fight for a livable future is rapidly closing by the second. We have no time left to waste. We urgently need a shift to genuinely sustainable energy from renewables,” added Bp. Alminaza.(PR)