Climate advocates demand reparations from World Bank's IFC, RCBC

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 08 2022 10:48 AM

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MANILA — Environmental advocates have held a coordinated protest to demand climate reparations and immediate action from the World Bank's private sector arm, International Finance Corporation, and Rizal Commercial Banking Corp.

The Philippine Movement for Climate Justice filed in 2017 a landmark complaint against the IFC for supposedly contributing to the climate crisis as it had funded 19 coal plant projects across the Philippines through local bank RCBC.

Aaron Pedrosa, co-chairman of PMCJ's energy working group, said the IFC’s independent watchdog, Compliance Advisor Ombudsman, had launched an investigation since the filing of the historic climate action suit.

"Of the 19 [coal plant projects], 11 were found eligible while the 8 weren’t because some lack in clarity as to the participation of the bank because that involved bonds," he told ANC's "Rundown."

He added that since the complaint was filed, "there has been policy development such as the green equity approach, which now clarifies accountability of the bank involving financial intermediary."

However, Pedrosa lamented that "even if we win on the World Bank level, it is not felt on the ground." 

"It has taken 5 years and so far no movement has happened on the ground. They are still experiencing the same pollution and there's impunity on the part of projects, the corporations because even our own government has not held them to account," he added.

Pedrosa asked the World Bank "to ensure reparations for the impacts that the communities are now suffering."

"We have coal plant sites where leaders have not only been intimidated in that one has been killed in 2016 for resisting a coal plant project," he said.

"We have indigenous peoples who have been displaced from their communities. We have air pollution, water pollution in some sites and even a mountain was denuded consistent with the support provided by RCBC just so the coal plant project will proceed."

In 2020, RCBC has said it would no longer fund coal plant projects after the Department of Energy imposed a nationwide moratorium on coal.

Last month, the bank has also vowed to phase out lending to coal-fired power plants by 2031 "as part of RCBC’s commitment to the environment and to the world we all live in".

Coal-fired power accounts for about a fifth of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, making it the biggest polluter. — With a report from Reuters