Philippine and Japanese green groups urge Japan-based JBIC to withdraw support for Batangas LNG terminal
Climate and environmental advocates and community stakeholders have called on the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), which has investments in Atlantic Gulf & Pacific (AG&P), to withdraw from the company’s planned liquified natural gas (LNG) terminal in Ilijan, Batangas.
Led by the Center for Energy, Ecology and Development and Protect Verde Island Passage Network (Protect VIP), environmental advocates condemned the continuous push for more gas in the country by Japan, which was outed as the world’s biggest public financier of oil, gas, and coal projects.
CEED’s latest special report, Financing a Fossil Future: Special Report on High Prices and Fossil Gas Expansion in SEA, launched in side events in both G20 and COP27 conferences, exposed that the three biggest financiers of fossil gas across SEA are from Japan.
“Japan has flooded the world with more fossil fuel projects through its unabated financing, and as our latest report reflects, has set its sights on Southeast Asia as well. Fossil finance does not only threaten the environment, but it also triggers worse electricity crisis and takes us further away from a clean energy future,” said CEED Executive Director Gerry Arances.
Environmental advocates have previously warned that the dirty gas project poses a direct threat to the Verde Island Passage (VIP), the most biodiverse marine habitat in the world, and known as the Amazon of the Oceans.
“Proponents often claim that fossil gas is a ‘clean energy source, despite a growing global awareness that it is, in fact, destructive. These projects and infrastructures seriously threaten life under and around the waters of VIP. The urgency of this matter is undeniable, and we demand and expect our local and national governments to act immediately and for international financiers to live true to their claims of environmental guidelines and cut off any and all flow of investment that puts VIP in peril,” said Goldman Prize Awardee Fr. Edwin Gariguez, lead convenor of Protect VIP.
The group’s open letter, delivered to JBIC’s Tokyo headquarters by Japanese environmental group Friends of the Earth, states that the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) earlier slapped a cease and desist order (CDO) against AG&P which include premature land conversion in Barangays Ilijan and Dela Paz without a permit. Circumstantial evidence on illegal tree cutting by the project site owner was cited by the Philippine Coconut Authority.
The AG&P project has previously been in hot waters after failing to secure a land conversion order from the DAR, tree-cutting permits from the Philippine Coconut Authority despite having circumstantial evidence for its LNG terminal, and failure to secure a land conversion order from DAR.
In a separate letter, Friends of the Earth Japan urged JBIC to immediately cease construction of the project and withdraw the investment from the project as it violates multiple provisions of the “Japan Bank for International Cooperation Guidelines for Confirmation of Environmental and Social Considerations” (hereinafter referred to as “Guidelines”), including lack of “social acceptability” and significant conversion or degradation of “critical natural habitats”
“As G20 starts today, we raise our voice against Japan’s false solutions. We are calling on JBIC to immediately suspend construction activities and withdraw from the Ilijan LNG terminal project in the Philippines,” said Hozue Hatae, Friends of the Earth Japan.
Japan is the largest public financier for oil, gas, and coal projects, as the country has contributed $10.6 billion in funding per year on average from 2019 to 2021.
“…at the 27th session of the Parties (COP27) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) currently underway in Egypt, Japan’s massive public support for fossil fuels is once again being criticized. We reiterate our strong request that your bank sincerely listen to the voices from people in the Philippines and international communities and stop your investment and financing support for fossil fuels, including the LNG terminal project in the Philippines,” the Japanese letter to JBIC states.
A day before the Biodiversity Day in Conference of Parties (COP 27), advocates underlined the need for financiers to divert their attention toward projects that protect natural resources and divest away from fossil fuel financing.
“As world leaders tackle solutions and imperatives for the climate crisis in Egypt tomorrow, we demand that our local and national government leaders do the same. Biodiversity agendas must be a priority even outside COP and they must be successfully implemented here if we want to give nature a fighting chance against biodiversity loss and destruction,” ended Gerry Arances.