Asian Development Bank (ADB) regressing on climate commitments in Asia

Manila, Philippines – June 16, 2023 –  In an online forum with the National Press Club of the Philippines, the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives – Asia Pacific stated that the amount of climate finance and complex facilities are on the rise but may end up fuelling the poly-crises shaping the majority of poor people in the region. 

GAIA Asia Pacific said that the region is still suffering from a continuing pandemic, an energy and food crisis stemming from a war in Europe, and heavy debt burdens in which environmental risks are at the top of the crises. “Talks on clean energy and just transition are bereft of this regional context. We are merely being offered more loans for expensive and dirty techno-fixes in developing countries”, Miriam Azurin, Deputy Director of GAIA Asia Pacific said. 

The group said that the continued financial and policy support of international financial institutions (IFIs) for Waste-to-Energy (WtE) incinerators will deepen the multiple crises as these projects pose complex environmental and social risks, Since 2009, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) alone has invested more than US $700 million of public money on WtE incinerators and has since convinced the public that it is a source of clean energy and cost-efficient waste disposal system. 

“A plan for a just transition should include payments for compensation for the communities as a result of investing in this harmful technology. We are merely being offered an energy plan without provisions  on how to recognize, protect and fullfil human rights including the right to a clean and healthy environment”, Azurin said. 

Yobel Novian Putra, GAIA Asia Pacific’s Climate and Clean Energy Campaigner, said that numerous longitudinal studies have shown that WtE is an environmentally hazardous method for both energy generation and waste disposal. “Incinerators with or without energy recovery release harmful pollutants such as dioxins, heavy metals, microplastics, greenhouse gases, and other toxic residues. 

“Many of these pollutants are poorly regulated or not regulated at all, posing risks to environmental protection and public health. Additionally, incineration is a carbon-intensive and energy-intensive process that heavily depends on plastic waste which is a  fossil fuel-derived material,  studies show incinerators are four times more carbon-intensive than coal,” he added. 

GAIA Asia Pacific also warns the public of increased interest in policy lending by ADB saying this could pose permanent harm when it proposes and lends for false solutions like WtE incinerators. “ADB wants to provide security for the private sector when they participate in energy projects. A critical component is by creating laws that would ensure the sustainability of the operation of WtE plants which include a subsidy for capital outlay and operational costs thereby creating the policy and investment infrastructure for permanent damage from this technology”, Putra said. 

In the Philippines, the ADB was instrumental in providing policy advice in favor of WtE which undermines the national ban on incinerators as stated in the Clean Air Act. It also provided support for marketing and assisting local government units to accept and review bids through various technical assistance projects. “Today, there are already four proposed WtE plants in the pipelines set to be constructed in protected environmental areas and near marginalized communities”.  Teody Navea, Ecowaste Coalition Cebu said. He added there were no meaningful consultations to integrate communities and local experts’ insights on risks associated with the projects and examine practical alternatives. 

Sonia Mendoza, Chairperson of the Ecowaste Coalition said the WtE facilities will be a financial burden to Filipinos and will only turn the garbage problem into a more persistent environmental problem. A WtE bill is being proposed in the Senate and Congress despite  the European Union’s shift away from technology.

The European Union (EU), despite its advanced technology and monitoring systems, has excluded burning waste as part of the transition towards a circular economy, highlighting that it does significant harm to its environmental objectives of waste prevention and recycling. 

Afrah Ismali, Zero Waste Maldives co-founder said that a lot of communities and non-profit organizations are working on zero waste systems. He appealed to IFIs to withdraw their financing for the WTE plant. “We do not need more debts and dirty technologies”, he added.   


Media Contacts:

Sonia Astudillo, GAIA Asia Pacific Senior Communications Officer | | +63 917 596 9286 

Mayang Azurin, GAIA Asia Pacific Deputy Director | | +63 945 319 0186

Yobel Novian Putra, GAIA Asia Pacific Climate and Clean Energy Officer | |  +62 821 2818 4440