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Japanese financiers, energy players urged to stop promoting fossil fuels in PH

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As the 2023 summit of the Group of Seven (G7) in Hiroshima nears, civil society organizations are calling attention to the role of Japan and Japanese institutions in the continued promotion of fossil fuels, especially gas, globally and in the Philippines.

In Tokyo, the Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED) and other clean energy advocates met with representatives of the Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC) to raise alarm over the dangers posed by its financial support to gas developers and projects in the Philippines. SMBC is a financier of San Miguel Corporation (SMC), the Philippines’ biggest expansionist of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

“We are glad to have had the opportunity to speak with SMBC. By fueling fossil gas developers and projects here and abroad, SMBC is helping drive countries like the Philippines that have already been massively impacted by climate disasters towards an even more catastrophic climate future. They are also helping to take away our hope of swiftly transitioning to 100% renewable energy, which is more than possible in our country considering the vast potential we have for renewables. At the same time, SMBC is turning itself into a culprit to the destruction of critical biodiversity in the Philippines by supporting fossil gas and LNG,” said Gerry Arances, Executive Director of CEED.

San Miguel Corporation (SMC) is developing a 1,300 MW LNG-fired power plant in Batangas, a province along the biodiversity hotspot known as the Verde Island Passage (VIP). It has also been identified as a polluter behind the oil spill currently causing major destruction in the VIP after the February 28 sinking of a tanker chartered by an SMC subsidiary. SMC was also identified to be among the owners of the 900,000 liters of industrial oil that the tanker was carrying.

“We ask SMBC to make the right decision. Stop contributing to the destruction of our Amazon of the oceans, the VIP. Stop supporting companies like San Miguel Corporation,” Arances added. CEED is a co-convenor of Protect VIP, a formation of civil society, faith-based groups, and local stakeholders seeking to preserve the Verde Island Passage.

In Yokohama, an action was also initiated by international civil society groups calling out Japanese company JERA for advancing LNG and detrimental technologies like ammonia co-firing. In the Philippines, JERA is a part owner of LNG developer and ammonia co-firing proponent Aboitiz Corporation.

“JERA and other Japanese companies are promoting LNG and technologies that will prolong the life of fossil fuels plants, especially coal, in line with the Japanese government’s efforts to keep clinging on fossil fuels. Civic movements and communities across the country have a clear ambition in mind: a full transition to renewable energy, which is the only genuinely beneficial option for the Philippines. The Japanese government and Japanese institutions should not act as roadblock to this,” Arances said.

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