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Civil society, church groups on BPI’s commitment to end coal financing

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Statement on the energy commitment announcement of BPI during its August 2023 anniversary:

We, the undersigned, find BPI’s reaffirmation of its commitment to end coal financing issued on the occasion of its 172nd anniversary to be disingenuous. We do not know if BPI President Jose Teodoro Limcauco has set a new target year for the end of coal financing, as a news article published by Business World mentioned that BPI intends to have 2030 as the bank’s target date for ending its coal loans and bonds while BPI previously announced 2032. Moreover, BPI has not shared publicly the details of its current coal exposure and how it intends to meet its targets. However, an examination of deals with known maturity dates would show that in either target year, BPI would just be waiting for the deals to mature instead of being more proactive. BPI must do more than nothing if it is to be a bank that will lead the finance side of the transition to renewable energy.

While the commitment to not finance new coal projects is commendable, projects already funded by BPI will continue to emit greenhouse gasses and produce expensive electricity for years to come, with BPI having no pronounced plans to assist in their urgent phaseout. Its commitment to restrict financing for coal also retains substantial loopholes by failing to close the door for expansion projects, all types of financing, whether debt or equity, and whether for project finance or general corporate purposes.

We call on BPI to innovate financial mechanisms to assist its clients in hastening the phase out of their coal-fired power plants. We are seeing more and more initiatives being explored by other private financial institutions, with important considerations being raised and threshed out by stakeholders. BPI should know this as its sister company, ACEN, has cut the lifetime of its coal-fired power plant in half through transition transactions with other private entities. At the same time, we urge the bank to also reject gas and liquefied natural gas projects in its financing portfolio, in keeping in line with the 1.5°C imperative of urgently phasing out all fossil fuels. Doing so would also save BPI from exposing itself to the challenges that gas and LNG are confronting today due to volatile prices and the global supply tug-of-war. On this end, BPI must find opportunity to further establish its commitment to clean energy by following its denial of its involvement in the Atimonan One Energy (A1E) coal power project with a commitment not to provide any financial services to the company now that the project has been converted into a liquefied natural gas plant.

Already, BPI takes pride as one of the first Philippine banks to pledge against coal financing. The bank can further establish its sustainability leadership through assisting the hastened phase out of fossil fuels, supporting transformation in communities affected by coal and gas, and helping turn our ambitions for renewable energy in the country even more possible. In building a better Philippines, BPI can do more.

This statement issued by:
Bishop Gerry Alminaza, Diocese of San Carlos
Alyansa Tigil Mina
Caritas Philippines
Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development
Conference of Major Superiors in the Philippines
Laudato Si’ Movement – Pilipinas
Living Laudato Si’ Philippines
Philippine Misereor Partnership, Incorporated
Philippine Movement for Climate Justice

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