THE national government should compel corporations and financial institutions in the country to avoid bankrolling coal projects, according to regional and local civil society organizations (CSOs).

The appeal by the Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD) and other CSOs came as an open letter to all governments who are meeting at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) and the UN High-Level Dialogue on Energy (UN-HLDE).

The total pipeline of these financing projects in South Asia and Southeast Asia amounts to $51.12 billion. The pipeline of fossil fuels in Southeast Asia has already reached $204 billion.

“Governments must also compel private banks and corporations based in and operating in their countries to stop financing and investing in new fossil fuel projects and phase out fossil fuel energy,” the CSOs said in a statement.

“There are currently at least 264 fossil fuel projects in South and Southeast Asia for completion which are funded through public and private co-financing. Asian private companies are involved in at least 38 projects under construction or in the pipeline with a total project cost of $51.12 billion,” it added.

The CSOs said governments should also shift subsidies from fossil fuels to 100-percent renewable energy for people and communities.

They said nine countries in South Asia and Southeast Asia have over $204-billion worth of fossil fuel projects in the pipeline and under construction. Of this amount, $33 billion will be sourced from public finance.

The CSOs warned that these projects will lock in Asian economies in fossil fuels for another 25 years to 30 years and even beyond. This will also contribute to global temperature to rise past safe levels.

“Renewable energy is already more affordable and accessible, and can be made even more feasible with scaled up government support,” the organizations said.

The groups further said that putting an immediate stop to building coal projects is a critical step toward a fossil fuel-free future in line with meeting the Paris goal of keeping global temperature rise to below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) report, the CSOs said, stated new oil and gas exploitation and development must stop this year and no new coal-fired power stations can be built if the world is to stay within the 1.5°C threshold.

Apart from the APMDD, regional CSOs who signed the letter included Fight Inequality Alliance, Asia; Migrant Forum in Asia; Focus on the Global South; People of Asia for Climate Solutions; ALTSEAN-Burma; Greenpeace Southeast Asia; and Asia.

Local organizations include the following: 350 Pilipinas; Alyansa ng mga Maralita ng Quezon City; Aniban ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (AMA); Bukluran ng Manggagawang Bulakenyo; Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (Solidarity of Filipino Workers/BMP); and, the Camarines Norte Movement for Climate Justice.

The list of local CSOs also include the following: the Concerned Citizens of Zambales; Freedom from Debt Coalition; Kabataan Para sa Kalikasan ng Atimonan; Kalayaan Lihok Mag-aaram- UP Tacloban; Koalisyon Pabahay ng Pilipinas; Limpyong Hangin Para sa Tanan (Clear Air for All); Naga Neighborhood Association Against Coal; Philippine Movement for Climate Justice; Piglas Batangas; and, Piglas Maralita, among others.

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