BPI asked to do more for clean energy transition


On the day of the Bank’s Annual Shareholders Meeting, a fossil fuel financing watchdog group said the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) can and should do more to ambitiously contribute to the Philippines’ energy transition.

In the 2024 edition of the annual Fossil Fuel Divestment Scorecard, BPI was revealed to be the biggest financier of both coal and renewable energy (RE) among 15 of the biggest banks in the country. The Scorecard is published by Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED), a think-tank that is part of Withdraw from Coal: End Fossil Fuels (WFC:EFF).

From 2009 to 2023, BPI channeled a total of USD 2.01 billion for renewable energy – more than any of its other peers. The bank, however, is also the biggest overall financier of coal for funneling a total of USD 3.28 billion in the same period.

“In all the years that the Scorecard has been published, BPI consistently ranked as the #1 financier of fossil fuels, especially coal. As the report looked at renewable energy financing for the first time, the bank slid down to #4. This contradiction between BPI’s historical contribution to expanding dirty energy from coal and its great potential to advance renewable energy is testament that banks can make urgent and positive shifts happen in the Philippines’ energy transition,” said Avril De Torres, Deputy Executive Director of CEED.

“Rather than continuing funding for fossil fuels, banks like BPI should instead extend more innovative financing to renewable energy like distributed renewable energy systems,” De Torres added. “Greater financing for renewable energy would be needed, especially as the DOE-auctioned 5.4 GW renewable energy is slated to go online in the coming years.”

Despite ranking relatively lower, BPI still occupied one of the top 5 spots due to its past financing of coal. The bank remains the biggest overall financier of coal for funneling a total of USD 3.28 billion to the industry from 2009 to 2023. BPI has also started dabbling with fossil gas, falsely promoted as a clean alternative and “transition fuel” despite its massive methane emissions, by channeling USD 224.87 million for fossil gas from 2021 to 2023. 

“BPI has made important steps in responding to the climate crisis and transition imperative. But numbers show that in the last decade and a half, the bank spent almost double on dirty energy than renewable energy. It is now time for BPI to outline even greater ambition, and to no longer add to damages that its fossil financing has made in the past. Part of what we ask is for them to develop and release a policy divesting from coal and fossil gas, and do more than just wait for their exposure to mature, and explore other means to shorten the life of coal plants in the country,” said Bishop Gerry Alminaza, lead convenor of Withdraw from Coal: End Fossil Fuels. 

“We are hopeful that the Bank will be true to its commitment to a better tomorrow by stopping investments to the fossil fuel industry – which it, in fact, does not even need to stay afloat. In the years since a moratorium on coal was issued in 2020, the bank has spent more on renewables than dirty energy and has managed to earn positive income. Focusing its efforts on renewables will be a positive win for both the bank and the country as a whole,” added Alminaza.

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