Biggest banks top funders of ‘dirty energy’ in 2022

THE largest banks in the country were found to be the top supporters of coal-related energy projects this year, an energy advocacy and bank watchdog group said in its most recent report. 

Withdraw from Coal (WFC) released its Coal Divestment Scorecard of 2022 on Wednesday, placing Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI), Philippine National Bank (PNB), BDO Unibank, Metropolitan Bank and Trust (Metrobank), and China Banking Corporation (Chinabank) as the five banks most exposed to coal financing. 

Since 2020, WFC has been releasing its annual Coal Divestment Scorecard to assess the financing activities of domestic banks, gauge their current divestment efforts in the coal industry, and evaluate their climate action policies

“The 2022 Scorecard reveals that despite the welcome development of at least 5 banks now having public stances against coal and even as no new coal loans were detected for the period covered by the report, banks still in effect enable financing to flow into coal projects by underwriting or selling bonds issued by coal developers,” the group said. 

WFC particularly cited the involvement of BDO, China Bank, Metrobank, Security Bank, Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) and Unionbank in the bond issuance of AboitizPower, the country’s second-largest coal developer, which were used in part for coal. 

“This is despite RCBC, BDO, and Security Bank having already announced plans to restrict and phase down their coal exposures,” WFC said. 

Security Bank, RCBC, Asia United Bank (AUB), Bank of Commerce, Robinsons Bank, and United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB), were the next in the rankings of the banks most exposed to financing coal projects. 

Union Bank of the Philippines, Land Bank of the Philippines, Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), Eastwest Banking Corporation and Philippine Bank of Communication (PBCOM) were the banks least exposed to coal financing, according to WFC’s scorecard. 

“We need to fix this disconnect between domestic banks’ no-coal stance with the reality of their financing activities. The findings of the report show us that banks managed to dodge being direct coal financiers by underwriting or selling bonds issued by coal developers. Banks cannot trick us into believing that they are truly divesting from coal unless they close this loophole of funneling funds through bonds,” Gerry Arances, Executive Director of Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development and co-convenor of WFC said.

“With the window to take action closing fast, all actors – including banks –must take drastic actions to align their policies to the Paris Agreement, divest from funding coal and fossil fuel projects of all kinds, and cease all types of financing activities that pump cash into the coal industry. Policy directions from the incoming government will dictate how easily this can happen,” added Arances.

Image credits: AP/Sam McNeil