By Bianca Angelica D. Añago, Reporter

NON-GOVERNMENT organizations (NGOs) within the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) coverage area have expressed concerns about the bank’s new Energy Policy, saying that it does not do enough to deny funding to fossil fuel projects.

Announced just weeks before the 26th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations (UN) Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26) on Oct. 31 to Nov. 12, the ADB has demonstrated an unwillingness “to close off options for financing for oil, gas, or coal and gas co-fired projects,” according to Tanya Lee Roberts-Davis, Energy Policy and Campaigns strategist of the NGO Forum on ADB.

Ms. Roberts-Davis said the policy leaves the door open for supporting coal expansion via financial intermediaries and associated infrastructure, cross-border oil and gas pipelines, diesel-powered plants in island and conflict-affected areas, liquified natural gas terminals, fossil fuel-reliant blue hydrogen, large-scale dams, waste to energy incinerators, and geothermal ventures.

“The conditionalities placed on gas financing are vague and the wording on coal remains ambiguous,” she added.

She said that though the policy allows the ADB to finance the early retirement of coal-fired power plants, it still has active direct investments in coal, for instance in the Jamshoro Project in Pakistan.

The ADB’s policy announcement coincided with the launch of the UN’s Production Gap Report, which confirmed the critical need to halt fossil fuel-dependent operations worldwide.

Grant Hauber, Energy Finance advisor of the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, said the policy “falls materially short of being the manifesto for supporting a sustainable, low-carbon future.”

Mr. Hauber said that while the ADB focuses on eliminating coal support, “it leaves a significantly wide door open to other fossil fuels.”

Competitively procured renewable energy (RE) is the low-cost solution for Southeast Asia, he added.

“The private sector is excited to invest in it and can significantly expand its role in the energy market,” Mr. Hauber said.

He also noted that the ADB could do the greatest good by supporting the RE rollout by helping members modernize and strengthen their transmission grids, facilitate the adoption of storage technology, and work with governments on developing economically and sustainability-driven sector policies and regulations.