The Australian government is urged to support ending funding for fossil fuel projects as the Asian Development Bank prepares to sign a new energy policy later this month.
The AfDB “will not support coal mining, processing, storage and transportation, or any new coal-fired power generation,” according to a draft policy, which also approves “the early withdrawal of power plants. charcoal “.
The AfDB – which provides loans, grants and other forms of assistance to developing countries in the region – has also proposed to end its support to “any exploration or drilling activity for natural gas.”
Australia – the fifth AfDB shareholder – is represented on its board, which will review the policy on October 20.
Environmental and humanitarian groups are among 35 organizations that have written to treasurer Josh Frydenberg urging Australia to “use its influence” to support an end to “all funding and support for fossil fuels.”
In the letter, released Wednesday, they say the move would help the region “make a fair and equitable low-carbon transition.”
The groups – including ActionAid Australia, the Australian Conservation Foundation and Oxfam – say they are “deeply concerned” that Australia may push for the AfDB to continue supporting coal and gas projects.
If Australia continues to support investment in fossil fuel projects, the letter says, it “undermines the Paris agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 ° C and blocking progress in the world. climate action on the international stage, which is out of step with peer governments.
“Any investment in infrastructure related to coal, oil and gas results in long-term financial and environmental destruction. “
Katherine Tu, head of campaigns and policy at ActionAid Australia, said Australia “should support, not block, all positive steps taken by the Asian Development Bank to exclude support for fossil fuels.”
“Globally, governments and institutions are strongly committed to ending funding and support for fossil fuel-related projects abroad,” Tu said in a statement.
“The US, UK and EU are committed to doing this. China recently announced that it would end its support for all new overseas coal projects. The European Investment Bank will also stop funding all coal, oil and gas projects by the end of 2021. Australia must step up and join this global leadership.
The calls come amid internal divisions within the Australian government over a long-term emissions reduction strategy to be presented at the Cop26 climate conference in Glasgow next month.
Frydenberg acknowledged in a speech last month that the markets “are moving as governments, regulators, central banks and investors brace for a lower-issuance future.”
Outlining the economic case for Australia to commit to net zero emissions by 2050, Frydenberg said the country “cannot run the risk that the markets mistakenly assume that we do not transition to the rest of the world”.
Treasury officials were asked about the AfDB’s proposed new policy on coal, oil and gas projects during Senate estimate hearings in June.
Greens Senator Janet Rice wanted to know what position the Australian representative has taken in the AfDB board discussions to date.
“The Treasury and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade meet regularly with the executive and alternate directors of the Australian-led constituency to discuss a range of questions on the work program of the AfDB board of directors,” the department said in a written response. to these questions.
“The AfDB Board of Directors has not yet had a formal discussion on the draft energy policy document.”