BPI green investments meaningless without coal divestment, says advocacy group

An advocacy group on Thursday urged the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) to raise its ambitions in contributing to Sustainable Development Goals and addressing the climate emergency by creating policies to eventually phase out its investments in dirty energy like coal.

The Withdraw from Coal (WFC) campaign issued the call following the conclusion of BPI’s Annual Stockholders Meeting, in which BPI President Cezar Consing reported on the bank’s achievements in 4 SDGs, including the advancement of clean energy.

“We are glad that BPI is making conscious effort to increase investments and financial services to the renewable energy sector, but we hope that the bank realizes that unless it also puts a stop to its contributions to the proliferation of dirty energy from coal, the suffering of both our people and our Common Home only worsens,” said Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of the Diocese of San Carlos.

According to Consing, BPI in the last seven years saw the highest growth of the CAGR of renewables among others in its power generation loan portfolio by 44%. The bank executive also announced that the advancement of clean energy accounts for 17% of its SDG-related loans.

“Today, BPI remains to be one of the biggest local financiers of coal, accounting for 24.9% of loans and underwriting provided to Philippine coal developers from 2017-2019. Unless it drastically reduces this in the timeframe required by today’s climate emergency, investments in renewable energy are but a band-aid solution to the wounds their coal financing has caused. And it does a terrible job in being so,” Alminaza said.

 Prior to the ASM, many of the bank’s stakeholders including Church and CSO depositors and BPI union workers expressed their appeal for BPI to be true to its green commitments and lead the financial sector in steering the transition towards low-carbon energy and sustainable practices.  “We hope BPI listens to the advice of the groups who believe it can meaningfully change the way we power our country, and not settle on simply adding green projects in its investment portfolio. Continued coal funding means disaster for our people and the planet; BPI must realize this and withdraw from coal now.”