Our future is non-negotiable
Updated: Aug 15, 2021
An open letter to the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and Public Development Banks from Asia climate strikers
SGCR signed this letter as part of the Asia Climate Rally organised in Nov 2020.
We, Asian youth climate strikers, call on the World Bank, the AIIB, the ADB and Public Development Banks (PDBs) to stop using public money to finance the deadly fossil fuel industry.
Asia is one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change, and we refuse to inherit a future where public funds are used to exacerbate this crisis through investments in an industry that has historically put profit over the welfare of historically marginalized frontline communities.
Instead, there should be a collective and collaborative effort across governments and institutions to focus on a green and just recovery post-COVID 19. We demand investments in a safer present by strengthening pandemic-proof social protections for vulnerable groups and communities and building a resilient future for us all through a just transition to renewable energy. Our key demands are:
PDBs must invest not only on climate solutions but pandemic-proof social protections to respond to the disproportionate effects of COVID-19 and climate change toto indigenous groups, gender groups, and the historically marginalized.
1. PDBs must stop financing the fossil fuel industry in Asia
According to a report, the IFC has financial ties to 41 new coal projects launched since 2013 in Asia. These projects include highly controversial power plants like the Mahan plant in India, the proposed Lanao Kauswagan power station in the Philippines, and the Rampal coal plant in Bangladesh. In September 2020, The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) promised to end all coal financing but has yet to write this into policy. It is a slap in the face that until now its policies continue to support investments in fossil fuels that “use commercially available least-carbon technology”, including coal. Besides coal, the AIIB also invests more than twice as much in oil and gas as in renewable energy, according to Recourse, with gas seen as an essential part of the energy transition. “We only support coal in countries where there is no alternative. In certain countries, coal is still subsidized. Countries with huge energy demands are not ready yet [to let go of coal]," David Morgado, senior energy policy specialist of AIIB, said in a plenary session on trends in clean energy finance. This sounds like an excuse to us who are suffering from the impacts of the climate crisis because of the willful ignorance and the wanton greed of these fossil fuel industries. We want AIIB to make concrete plans and implementations on what they have talked about. We want AIIB to be more transparent and stick to their promises to us, the youth. We already know that our future is at stake. Talking about clean energy but still having plans to fund coal and gas is like basically still saying yes to fossil fuel projects. We refuse to be fooled. These projects have been listed as category A (significant adverse environmental and social impacts that are irreversible, cumulative, diverse, or unprecedented) and category B (limited number of potentially adverse environmental and social impacts.) Why are they still being funded when it will destroy our environment and our future? We demand that these be put to a stop at once. Fossil Fuel Projects Funded by AIIB (Source: AIIB Project List): Azerbaijan: Trans Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline Project (TANAP)
Approved funding: USD600 million
Year of approval: 2016
Under the WB ESSP, the project has been assigned Category A given the complexity of the project.
Bangladesh: Natural Gas Infrastructure and Efficiency Improvement
Approved funding: USD60 million
Financing approval: 2017
As required by the Bank’s Environmental and Social Framework and Policy, the Project is assigned Category A.
Indonesia: PLN East Java & Bali Power Distribution Strengthening Project (PLN -> Indonesia’s only state-owned enterprise in the power sector that still relies on coal industry)
Approved funding: USD310 million
The Project has been assigned a category B as it has a limited number of potentially adverse environmental and social impacts
Turkey: Tuz Golu Turkey Gas Storage Expansion Project Approved funding: USD600 million
Financing approval: 2018
Under the WB’s Safeguard Policies, the proposed project has been assigned Category A. The main environmental concern is the potential adverse impacts on the Tuz Golu (Salt Lake). The Salt Lake has been designated a Special Environmental Protected Area by the Turkish Ministry of Environment and Urbanization.
In June 2020, 250 organizations forum of ADB had called to end fossil fuel financing in Asia, stating that climate change is a key issue in the ADB Energy Policy of 2009. Yet, now we see that the bank itself admits that not all of its clean energy investments are considered climate investments. ADB's current energy policy, released in 2009, prioritizes energy security and poverty reduction even if this means tapping coal and natural gas-based power generation. How could you tell us that you care about the climate and about our future then ignore the negative impacts that funding the fossil fuel industry has on our lives today?
Coal Projects by ADB (Source: FOE reports 2017):
Tata Mundra Coal Plant, India
ADB contributed $450million to the 4000 megawatt coal fired power plant, which was justified by MDB lenders as ‘the most energy efficient coal power plant in the country.’
Ernst and Young analysis has estimated baseline CO2 emissions and reductions for the Project would be 30.796 million tons per year (baseline value) making it India’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gas.
Ash emitted from the coal plant has disrupted fishing practices. Coal dusts from conveyor belts feeding the power station threaten human health and contaminate agriculture. The waste outlet of the plant emits hot water, damaging nearby mangroves that serve as a breeding ground for fish. Infrastructure has damaged groundwater systems, polluting communities’ drinking water sources.
Jamshoro Coal Project, Pakistan
ADB’s most recent controversial coal finance has been a $900 million investment in the Jamshoro coal project in Pakistan.
The ADB went ahead with the investment despite the objection of key shareholders: the U.S., Finland, Denmark, Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden – and abstentions from others – Austria, Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Turkey, and the U.K10
The ADB approved the investment even though it was in conflict with the Bank’s own environmental policy and without conducting a thorough analysis into renewable energy options to meet Pakistan’s energy needs.
Today, we demand PDBs to stop financing fossil fuel projects that involve the exploration of new fossil fuel reserves, along with the expansion and extraction of fossil fuels and coal plants. There must be a complete stop of direct and indirect financing for any project that involves the degradation or loss of natural forests or other natural ecosystems. They need to invest in building a better future.
2. PDBs must align policies with the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement
As we already know even if efforts are made to reduce 45 percent of carbon emissions, we will still face global temperature rise by 1.5 degrees in the near future. This spells out catastrophic events for all of us, especially the vulnerable regions of Asia. The climate targets made are already insufficient, and yet we see that efforts being made aren't even enough to meet those targets. PDBs should commit to Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement as the key metrics for their investment for a safer and greener future and do their role to keep global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees. PDBs must make a commitment to reduce their climate impact to zero by 2050 at the latest, with an interim commitment of halving their impact by 2030 at the latest.
3. PDBs must invest in a resilient future post-pandemic
According to the Gates Foundation’s Goalkeepers 2020 reports, the COVID-19 pandemic is estimated to push an additional 88 million to 115 million people into extreme poverty this year, with the total rising to as many as 150 million by 2021, pushing development back by 25 years. Asian countries are already facing a crisis due to the health pandemic and the impacts of climate change. The financing of the fossil fuel industry is only bringing the horrible situation, loss of lives, economic loss, and other disastrous impacts to children, youth, women, the poor, indigenous groups, and marginalised communities around Asia. In the coming days the climate crisis will cause more economic loss in these regions. PDBs should be ashamed for not focusing on the recovery of communities impacted by the crisis. In addition, according to the 2019 Civil Society Equity Review, the scale of loss and damage requires an “annual goal of providing at least 50 billion USD by 2022, and ratcheting up to 150 billion USD by 2025 and $300 billion USD by 2030.” We ask PDBs: how is the loss of our future being compensated? We, youth from Asia, emphasize that public development banks should not continue to make the same mistakes of the past, especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis. We have the right to live in a world free of climate impacts where the environment is safe and healthy. Public development banks should not use public money — the people’s money — for activities that go against this right.
4. PDBs must make efforts to focus on the children, the youth and our future by ramping up ambition towards zero emissions
The future of youths and children is at stake. Our health, education, and future are taken for granted by the fossil fuel investors. We have not seen PDBs focus on building resilient communities for the next generation. Children deserve to live in a world free from the life-threatening effects of climate change. Given the overwhelming scientific evidence on the dangers of climate change, and the clear opportunities we have for altering its course, there is no excuse for not acting ambitiously. The youngest will have to contend with the immediate and life-threatening dangers of climate-related disasters, food insecurity, rising air pollution, increased risk of vector-borne diseases, acute respiratory infections, diarrhoeal diseases and malnutrition. Evidence is increasingly showing that these risks can have a markedly detrimental impact on a child’s early development.
5. PDBs must invest not only on climate solutions but pandemic-proof social protections to respond to the disproportionate effects of COVID-19 and climate change to indigenous groups, gender groups, and the historically marginalized.
According to UN reports, around 45 billion people in Asia are affected by floods each year. Among them those who suffer the most are the poor, marginalized people. The same people already suffering from socio-economic problems are also the ones burdened the most by the climate crisis. In the past 20 years, 4.2 billion people have been affected by weather-related disasters, including a significant loss of lives. Developing countries are the most affected by climate change impacts. Low-income countries suffered the greatest losses, including economic costs estimated at 5 percent of GDP. According to the latest data, 11 percent of the world’s population lived in a low-elevation coastal zone in 2000. Many of them were poor and compelled to live in floodplains because they lacked the resources to live in safer areas. The data also underscores that in many countries in South and East Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, many people have no other option than to erect their dwellings on precarious hill slopes. The report also found a larger concentration of poor and marginalized groups in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid aridity zones which cover about 40 percent of the Earth’s land surface. About 29 percent of the world’s population live in those areas and are facing additional challenges owing to climate change. It is unfair that those who are already so vulnerable need to face even more challenges because of the climate crisis, again, all because of the fossil fuel industry that the PDBs are funding. We are fighting back for change and justice on all fronts. On November 28th, we will be holding the Asia Climate Rally, a collective day of action organized by youth strikers from Malaysia, Philippines, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Indonesia, South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore, both online and offline. We will be demanding climate action, divestment, the protection of our environment defenders, policies for people and planet, ambition, collaboration and accountability, all towards a just recovery! FiC -- we will be watching you.
Climate Action Pakistan
Youth Strike 4 Climate Philippines
SG Climate Rally
Students Taking Action for NUS to Divest (STAND)
Mountains to Ocean Climate Initiative
Asian Environmental Youth Network
Jaga Rimba Indonesia