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As the Asian Development Bank (ADB) finalises a review of its energy policy for the first time in a decade, sources say Australian officials are pushing back against proposed exclusions on financing new coal projects and minor exclusions on gas. 

The ADB is the second largest multilateral institution funding fossil fuels in Asia. Australia has notable influence on the governance and operations of the Bank as the fifth largest shareholder, after Japan, the United States, China, and India, and fourth in terms of its voting power. 

35 civil society organisations have written an open letter to the Australian Government urging it to support the ADB’s transition away from financing and supporting fossil fuel projects to align with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Katherine Tu, Head of Campaigns and Policy at ActionAid Australia said the global women’s rights organisation is deeply concerned about reports that Australia is trying to undermine the multilateral bank’s energy policy negotiations while publicly spruiking Australia’s renewable energy credentials.

“Australia’s position is out of step with the global consensus on the need for urgent climate action. Australia should be supporting, not blocking, any positive steps the Asian Development Bank is taking to rule out support for fossil fuels,” Tu said.

“Globally, governments and institutions are making strong commitments to cease the financing and support of fossil fuel related projects abroad – the US, UK, and EU have committed to do this. China recently announced it would end support for all new coal projects overseas. 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 burning of fossil fuels is driving more extreme weather events like bushfires and floods. Women are being disproportionately impacted from these crises, which are deepening poverty and existing inequalities.”

Dina Hopstad Rui, Campaigns Director at Jubilee Australia, said Australia’s actions contradict its promises to tackle climate change.

“From responding to the COVID-19 pandemic with a gas-led recovery to excluding climate commitments from trade deals – Australia is not the climate leader it claims to be,” Rui said.

“Blocking climate action at the ADB is yet another way the Australian government is undermining the urgent transition away from fossil fuels, which is needed to avoid the worst impacts of the climate crisis.”

For more information and interviews, contact Liz Pick at [email protected], Media & Communications Manager, ActionAid Australia, or Dina Hopstad Rui, Campaigns Director, Jubilee Australia at dina

Download the letter here.


  • The ADB is in the process of finalising its new energy policy, which will be considered by its Board during October, and voted on by 20 October 2021. 
  • The bank has spent approximately $10 billion on fossil fuel projects since its last energy policy was released in 2009, and over $4.7 billion on gas since the adoption of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

  • By the end of 2020, Australia had provided $8.85 billion in capital subscriptions to the multilateral development bank.

  • Over 30 civil society organisations from the aid and development, human rights, and environment sector including unions have signed the letter to the Australian Government. Signatories include ActionAid Australia, Jubilee Australia, Oxfam, the Australian Conservation Foundation, Save the Children, Plan International Australia, Greenpeace Asia-Pacific, Doctors for the Environment, Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA, and