Bishop Alminaza calls on banks to divest from coal
MANILA – San Carlos (Negros Occidental) Bishop Gerardo A. Alminaza called on Philippine banks to stop funding the expansion of coal operations in the country and support the development of renewable energy instead.
In a statement datelined Cagayan de Oro City, the bishop made the call during the 3rd Philippine Environment Summit, an event that showcases current initiatives contributing to the country’s social and economic development while keeping the environment clean.
Bishop Alminaza represented the Withdraw from Coal Campaign during the three-day conference which ended yesterday at the Grand Caprice Convention Center.
“As fulfillment of their moral obligation, Philippine banks must have concrete plans to phase out coal finance in the time required by today’s climate crisis. They must have clear policies restricting their exposure to coal, channeling the fund they divest from it into clean and affordable renewable energy for all Filipinos,” he said.
He acknowledged President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive during his third State of the Nation Address last year to “fast track” the development of renewable energy resources and reduce dependency on coal, Bishop Alminaza said the continuing dominance of coal in the country’s energy mix calls for even more ambitious ways forward from different sectors, including the banking system.
“Banks financing coal are not only funding the climate crisis, they are also enabling the continued suffering of coal-affected communities,” he added.
There were 16 new coal-fired power plants added to the national grid during the last decade as the country looks forward to compliment 12,014 MW of new coal power, making the country the ninth biggest coal-dependent country in the world as of 2019.
Thirteen banks have been reported to have loaned or underwritten some US$6.3 billion to coal interests from 2017 to the third quarter of 2019. Two of the country’s biggest banks reportedly loaned 55% of the amount.
A petition letter was addressed to the Bank of the Philippine Islands, the bank which many church organizations have financial relations, was also circulated during the event and signed by participants including Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, S.J.
“Withdraw from Coal” campaign was launched in Manila last January and the Visayas in February and led by the Catholic church, civil society and people’s organizations calling on Philippine banks to divest from businesses involved in coal power generation and coal extraction. (Melo M. Acuña)
San Carlos Bishop Gerardo A. Alminaza calls on financial institutions to cease funding coal projects across the country. (Aryanne de Ocampo Photo)