MANILA, Philippines - Warning that the United States and other developed countries may yet again raise earlier proposals for international financial institutions (IFIs) to manage global climate funds in the ongoing United Nations Climate Conference in Copenhagen, cause-oriented groups together with some Ondoy victims storm the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and World Bank offices in Ortigas, demanding the banks to keep out of climate negotiations.

Led by the Freedom from Debt Coalition and Climate Exchange (CLIMEX) Pilipinas, the protesters demanded that the two financial institutions must not let their bad climate reputation stain the climate negotiations.

Rebecca Malay, FDC vice president, said that the banks’ participation in “climate change-inducing” projects like coal, nuclear, and other energy projects “remove any ascendancy and credibility these banks supposedly have in dealing with climate change.”

“They should not take up any role in resolving the climate crisis, because they are part of the climate problem to begin with,” said Malay.

She added that with their “false solutions,” the two financial institutions, instead of making any progress in curbing the effects of climate change, actually heightened its impact to the already vulnerable and impoverished communities.

Bro. Martin Francisco, CLIMEX Pilipinas spokesperson, singled out the ADB for promoting and financing “dirty technologies” in the region.

“ADB’s promotion of dirty technologies like coal power plants, which induce climate change, and financing of ecologically-destabilizing projects like large-scale dams, which increases adaptation costs, are to blame for the climate disasters in impoverished countries like the Philippines,” Francisco said.

Climate debt

The groups explained that this on top of the banks’ “exploitation and plunder” of the environment throughout its history, while subjecting the “people to a long epoch of indebtedness which prevented the transition to sustainable development.”

“All of these add up to their climate debt, the list of ‘daños y perjuicios’ which they should be paying for,” Francisco stated.

Reparations, debt cancellation, not loans

As payment for the climate debt, the groups insist that the ADB and World Bank must provide funds for reparation and begin cancelling debts, rather than extending new loans to developing countries.

“It is like rubbing salt in our wounds. They owe us for having participated in inducing climate change, like funding flood-inducing projects such as the San Roque Multi-purpose dam which led to the inundation of Pangasinan and nearby provinces. Now instead of paying us, they are pushing us loans which can only drive us deeper into debt,” Malay said.

Malay was referring to recent pronouncement of the ADB and World Bank to lend $250 million worth of concessional loans under the Clean Technology Fund (CTF) and their pledge to contribute to the $3-billion pool of concessional loans for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Typhoon Ondoy and Pepeng.

“Instead, these IFIs, in the first place primarily owned and controlled by rich and developed nations, must begin creating funds for reparations under the principle of ‘historical responsibility’ within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC),”  Malay said. (30)

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