JBIC urged to draw line against LNG project in biodiversity hotspot after Japan’s G7 pledge to cut fossil fuel financing

With Japan signing on to the G7 countries’ commitment to stop financing fossil fuel projects internationally by the end of 2022, environmental groups in Japan and the Philippines are asking state-owned Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) to pull back support for companies and projects driving fossil gas expansion in Asia, particularly in the vicinity of a marine biodiversity hotspot in the Philippines.

Last week, G7 ministers agreed to “end new direct public support for the international unabated fossil fuel energy sector by the end of 2022 except in limited circumstances clearly defined by each country that are consistent with a 1.5 °C warming limit and the goals of the Paris Agreement.”

JBIC is an investor and part owner of Atlantic Gulf and Pacific Company (AG&P), which is developing a floating storage unit (FSU) and onshore regasification terminal for imported liquefied natural gas (LNG) in Batangas, an area belonging to the Verde Island Passage (VIP). VIP is the epicenter of gas expansion in the country, with 7 of 9 new LNG terminals and 8 of 27 new gas power plants planned nationally.

“In financing AG&P, JBIC is culprit to the destruction of critical marine ecosystems and to opening the floodgates for massive supply of imported LNG in the Philippines, which will lock us into a fossil future. Japan signing on to the G7 pledge should be a wake up call for JBIC to rethink its involvement in LNG in the Philippines and everywhere else,” said Gerry Arances, Executive Director of think-tank Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED).

VIP is a marine corridor that houses over 60% of all the world’s known shore fish species, making it among the most biodiverse marine habitat in the world and no less than an Amazon of the oceans. The 3 MTPA project in the VIP faces opposition from concerned groups and at least three lawsuits for environmental and social acceptability violations.

“For JBIC, drawing a line against AG&P and its LNG terminal would be saving itself from troubles linked to the project – and a proof of how committed Japan is to a global energy transition,” said Hiroki Osada, Development Finance and Environment Campaigner for Friends of the Earth (FoE) Japan.

Japan had been the only G7 country that did not sign the pledge to cut fossil fuel investments at the 26th climate conference in November 2021, despite being among the world’s biggest fossil fuel funders.

“The Japanese government’s G7 commitment is an important step towards ending its overseas fossil fuel finance. However, we are very concerned that the Japanese government will misinterpret this commitment and drive forward with plans to expand gas infrastructure across Asia and globally. JBIC must step up with integrity and stop supporting gas expansion,” said Susanne Wong, Asia Program Manager for Oil Change International.