CEED statement on World Bank Group Compliance Advisor Ombudsman’s IFC-RCBC coal-funding prod

PHOTO: Filing of the complaint in 2017. Photo courtesy of the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ).

The Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED) welcomes the decision of the International Finance Corporation (IFC)’s Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) to investigate the IFC’s role in the expansion of coal energy in the Philippines, made through multi-million dollar loans to coal-financier local bank RCBC. CEED, however, reminds the CAO that the time it took to come up with this decision, two years since affected Filipino communities and organizations led by the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ) filed the complaint in 2017, is two years too long.

Two years of dithering meant two years lost in the rapidly closing window to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C through massive greenhouse gas reductions. It also exacerbated poverty on the ground, through the construction, expansion, and operation of coal projects indirectly funded by the IFC. Already residing in a country that was reported by the Global Peace Index in June 2019 as the most vulnerable to climate change in the world, Filipinos are further made to suffer threats to health, life, and livelihood, violence and harassment, and displacement of indigenous communities from their ancestral lands.

The CAO’s decision to look into the IFC’s possible violations of its own environmental and social mandate must be seen by the World Bank Group as an opportunity to atone for its mistake of funding coal. The complaint laid down by PMCJ and the communities it represented has exposed the gaps in the financial institution’s existing moratorium against funding coal projects. Until sweeping policy changes and deliberate measures to end all forms of coal financing are made, the marks that coal has left on the World Bank Group’s hands remain. And the time left to wash the dirt away is quickly running out.

CEED implores the global organization to fast-track the conduct of the compliance investigation and address the grievances that the Filipino people brought to their attention. Moving forward, the World Bank Group should walk its clean energy talk by assessing and practicing transparency in the environmental and social impacts of their direct and indirect investments, and by using its influence in the financial sector to steer a transition towards clean energy systems which empower communities without further triggering the climate crisis.