Philippines banks urged to stopfunding coal projects

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine banks have been urged to stop funding the coal industry after extending $6.3 billion worth of loans over the past three years.

Church leaders and civil society organizations launched the Church-CSO Empowerment for Environmental Sustainability (Eco-convergence) to convince the banking industry to stop funding coal projects.

The group said 13 local banks have lent or underwritten $6.3 billion for coal expansion projects from 2017 to 2019.

Eco-Convergence includes Bishop Gerry Alminaza of the Diocese of San Carlos, Fr. Edwin Gariguez, executive secretary of NASSA/ Caritas Philippines; Teody Navea of the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ) - Cebu; Gerry Arances, executive director of the Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED); Yolly Esguerra, national coordinator of Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. (PMPI); Caryl Pillora, policy officer of Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM); Gia Ibay, head of the Climate and Energy Program of WWF-Philippines; and Rodrigo Montemayor, representative of the coal-affected community in Toledo.

“We call on the Filipino public, the depositors and shareholders of local banks, to join us in strangling the lifeblood of coal power plants in the country. Through this action, we can properly act to respond to the climate emergency we all face,” they said.

The group urged Philippine banks still funding coal to cut off the funds “which empower coal developers to continue poisoning the Filipino people and the environment.”

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The group warned that coal plants are on their way to become stranded assets and liabilities as renewable energy continues to become even more viable and as the global response to the climate crisis strengthens with the expected rise of policies restricting coal’s playing field.

The group said Visayans have repeatedly been at the forefront of extreme climate events.

Typhoon Yolanda in 2013 placed Visayan islands in global headlines due to the massive deaths and havoc it caused, and it has since been followed by typhoons of intensifying destructiveness, the group said.

“The Philippines has repeatedly been identified as one of the countries most threatened by climate change. It must take the lead in making sure coal bids the world goodbye the soonest. Instead, the Philippines continues to invest in coal as a source of power which is profitable only to a very small segment of the population,” they said.

“It is the power of money which continues to threaten humanity with extinction through catastrophic climate change. It is therefore only appropriate to use the power of money to threaten coal power with extinction,” they said.

The group said the beginning of 2020 marks the world’s entry into the last decade left to avert even more catastrophic climate change.

“We urge Philippine financial institutions still keeping coal alive to withdraw their support from coal as a new decade’s resolution and as fulfillment of their moral and financial responsibilities to the Filipino people,” they said.

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