Civil Society Statement: Climate Bonds Initiative must abandon its misguided attempt to greenwash hydropower

276 civil society organizations

Civil Society Statement:
Climate Bonds Initiative must abandon its misguided attempt to greenwash hydropower

December 10, 2019

On behalf of 276 civil society organizations from around the world, we are calling upon the Climate Bonds Initiative (CBI) to abandon the certification of destructive hydropower projects as climate-friendly. The proposed hydropower criteria developed by CBI and its technical working group fall far short of acceptable standards and practice, and their adoption would pose a significant threat to rivers and the communities and freshwater species that depend on them. 

If adopted, the CBI’s hydropower criteria would risk opening up a funding source that could prove profitable to dam operators and institutional investors with Paris-friendly branding, while making no meaningful contribution to stemming the climate crisis. Beyond permitting projects with dubious value to attract a new line of financing, the greatest risk of the proposed criteria is channeling scarce climate dollars toward projects that fail to help us confront the challenge of preventing a 2oC scenario and that exert increased pressure on freshwater biodiversity and the functioning of our water cycle.

In its eagerness to capitalize on the expanding market for climate-certified energy projects, the Climate Bonds Initiative has aligned itself with the International Hydropower Association (IHA), an industry body created to promote the interests of hydro companies and boost their image. In recent years, the IHA has rolled out a series of tools and guidance and advocated their use in lieu of established international standards and mechanisms for assessing the costs and benefits of hydropower. 

The adverse environmental and social impacts of destructive hydroelectric dams are now well understood, ranging from displacing and impoverishing millions, particularly indigenous peoples, to driving the extinction of freshwater species and fragmenting rivers. Yet the CBI proposes to adopt the IHA’s own environmental, social and governance assessment tool as their principal source of assessment and verification. This would amount to little more than a box ticking exercise conducted by assessors accredited by the IHA itself – a glaring conflict of interest that lacks any meaningful oversight – making a mockery of international standards and conventions designed to protect rivers and the rights of communities. This would also be at odds with positive approaches adopted within the existing CBI standard for water infrastructure. 

Besides profound damage to the hydrosphere – an important part of global climate system – hydropower reservoirs emit significant amounts of greenhouse gases, especially in the tropics. Dam reservoirs emit methane, a particularly potent greenhouse gas, and are a significant contributor to the climate crisis. Yet CBI’s proposed criteria set such a low bar that even high-emitting dams would qualify for CBI certification. This problem is compounded by CBI’s proposal to use the IHA’s own non-transparent emissions calculation tool, which systematically underestimates the greenhouse gas emissions from dams. Methane emissions from dams are highest in the first years of operation, thus incentivizing hydropower would contribute to a spike in emissions at the precise moment the world is trying to reduce GHG emissions to arrest the worst impacts of climate change.

Climate financing has the potential to play a critical role in ensuring positive outcomes for rivers. This could include: protecting threatened freshwater resources; restoring flows that facilitate reconnection of fragmented ecosystems; ensuring cultural and environmental flows determined in consultation with affected peoples; and promoting river restoration efforts such as the decommissioning of obsolete dams. This is of utmost importance because our freshwater resources are vital to sustain in an era of climate change. The CBI has already issued a separate standard for water infrastructure, which took an important step to help promote nature-based solutions to addressing climate change. 

CBI’s hydropower criteria, on the other hand, would represent a step backward, sanctioning business-as-usual energy practices that further threaten our rivers. If approved, it would exacerbate global threats to freshwater biodiversity, undermine the cultural values and human rights of affected communities, and fail to make progress toward addressing the climate crisis. It would at the same time damage the reputation of the Climate Bonds Initiative and contribute to discrediting green bond finance mechanisms in general. Therefore, we call upon the CBI, its board and advisory bodies to abandon their pursuit of a hydropower standard that caters to the hydropower industry instead of providing meaningful solutions to address the climate crisis.

List of endorsing organizations:

  1. Abibiman Foundation, Ghana

  2. Action for Improvement of Food Child and Mother (AFICM), DRC

  3. Actions pour les Droits, l'Environnement et la Vie (ADEV), DRC

  4. Alliance for Conflict Transformation (ACT), Cambodia

  5. Alternatives Durables pour le Développement, Cameroon

  6. Älvräddarnas Samorganisation, Sweden

  7. Amazon Watch, United States

  8. Amigos de la Tierra España (FoE Spain)

  9. Amigos del Viento Meteorología Ambiente Desarrollo, Uruguay

  10. Amis de l'Afrique Francophone (AMAF)-Benin

  11. Apt Succor Organization, South Sudan

  12. Armenian Women for Health and Healthy Environment, Armenia

  13. Arnika, Czech Republic

  14. Asamblea por la Defensa del Río Tajo de Aranjuez, Spain

  15. Asociacion Ambiente y Sociedad, Colombia

  16. Association "Baikal Trail-Buryatia", Russia

  17. Association des Jeunes pour le Développement, Mauritania

  18. Association for Promotion Sustainable Development, India

  19. Association of patriotic upbringing "Master of His Land", Russia

  20. Associazione Salvaguardia Val Mastallone, Italy

  21. ATTAC, France

  22. Balkani Wildlife Society, Bulgaria

  23. Balkanka Association, Bulgaria

  24. Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA)

  25. Bank Information Center, United States

  26. Bank Information Center Europe, The Netherlands

  27. Barwaaqo Voluntary Organisations, Somaliland 

  28. Biodiversity Conservation Center, Russia

  29. Biofuelwatch, UK

  30. Bird Protection and Study Society of Serbia

  31. Black Sea Women's Club, Ukraine

  32. Both ENDS, The Netherlands

  33. Bretton Woods Project, UK

  34. Brot Für Die Welt, Germany

  35. Buliisa Initiative for Rural Development Organisation (BIRUDO), Uganda

  36. Buryat Regional Union for Baikal (BRUB), Russia

  37. Cambodian Volunteers for Society (CVS), Cambodia

  38. Carbon Market Watch, Belgium

  39. Centar za životnu sredinu/ Friends of the Earth Bosnia and Herzegovina

  40. Center for Participatory Research and Development (CPRD), Bangladesh

  41. Center for Protection and Research of Birds, Montenegro

  42. Center for Water Resources Conservation and Development (WARECOD), Vietnam

  43. Centre de Formation et d'Action pour le Développement (CFAD), DRC

  44. Centre for Environment, Bosnia & Herzegovina

  45. Centre for Financial Accountability, India

  46. Centre for Initiative Against Human Trafficking (CIAHT-Ghana)

  47. Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur, India 

  48. Centro de Documentación en Derechos Humanos "Segundo Montes Mozo S.J.", Ecuador

  49. Centro ibérico de restauración fluvial CIREF, Spain

  50. CESTA Amigos de la Tierra, El Salvador

  51. China-Latin America Sustainable Investments Initiative

  52. Christian International Eswatini

  53. Circolo Legambiente Val Trebbia, Italy

  54. CIRF - Italian Centre for River Restoration

  55. Citizens' Committee of Tonegawa Basin, Japan

  56. Clean Water Center, Russia

  57. Climate Watch Thailand

  58. Coalition for Rivers, Czech Republic

  59. Coalition for Sustainable Development (KOR), Montenegro

  60. Colonia Z-16 De Pescadores, Brazil

  61. Comitato Difesa Torrente Pesarina, Italy

  62. Comitato No Tube Piacenza, Italy

  63. Comitato per la Salvaguardia e Tutela di Cortlys, Italy

  64. Comitato Peraltrestrade Dolomiti, Italy

  65. Committee for Water in Tokyo, Japan

  66. Commons and Safeguards, Philippines

  67. Commons BC, Canada

  68. Community and Family Aid Foundation-Ghana

  69. Community Empowerment and Social Justice (CEMSOJ) Network, Nepal

  70. Community Resource Centre Foundation (CRC), Thailand

  71. Conseil Regional des Organisations Non Gouvernementales de Développement, DRC

  72. Conservación Humana AC, Mexico

  73. Conservation Strategy Fund (CSF-Brazil)

  74. Coordinadora Ciudadana No Alto Maipo, Chile

  75. Coordinamento Nazionale Tutela Fiumi-Free Rivers Italia

  76. Crimean Republican Association Ekologiya i Mir, Russia 

  77. Culture and Environment Preservation Association, Cambodia

  78. DOPPS-BirdLife Slovenia

  79. Društvo narava Pohorja, Slovenia

  80. Društvo za raziskovanje, ohranjnje in trajnostni razvoj Dinaridov Dinaricum, Slovenia

  81. Druzhina okhrany prirody Dzerzhinska, Russia

  82. Earth Rights International, Thailand

  83. EcoAlbania

  84. Ecological Association ''Rzav-God Save Rzav'', Serbia

  85. Ecological Center DRONT, Russia

  86. Ecological Society of Sokobanja, Serbia

  87. Ecosistemas, Chile

  88. Eko "Bistro", Bosnia & Herzegovina

  89. Eko Element, Bosnia & Herzegovina

  90. Ekologistak Martxan, Basque Country

  91. EMACE Foundation of Sri Lanka

  92. Environmental Center for Development Education and Networking (EDEN Center), Albania

  93. Environnement Sans Frontière (ESF), DRC

  94. EPN Consultants Limited, Jamaica 

  95. Estrategia - Center of Investigation and Action for Urban Development, Peru

  96. EuroNatur Foundation, Germany

  97. European Water Movement

  98. Eyge Environmentai Education Center, Russia

  99. FightC, Canada

  100. Fisheries Action Coalition Team, Cambodia

  101. Fobomade, Bolivia

  102. Forum for Policy Dialogue on Water Conflicts in India

  103. Fórum Mato-grossense de Meio Ambiente e Desenvolvimento (Formad), Brazil

  104. Fórum Mudanças Climáticas e Justiça Socioambiental (FMCJS), Brazil

  105. Fórum Nacional da Sociedade Civil nos Comitês de Bacias Hidrográficas (FONASCCBH), Brazil

  106. Forum nazionale Salviamo il Paesaggio, Italy

  107. Freedom from Debt Coalition, Philippines

  108. Friends of Lake Turkana, Kenya

  109. Friends of the Earth U.S.

  110. Friends with Environment in Development, Uganda

  111. Fundación Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (FARN), Argentina

  112. Fundacion Cauce: Cultura Ambiental, Causa Ecologista, Argentina

  113. Fundacion Chile Sustentable, Chile

  114. Fundación Global Nature, Spain

  115. Fundación La Hendija, Unidad de Vinculación Ecologista, Argentina

  116. Fundación Montecito, Colombia

  117. GAIA Kosovo

  118. Gautam Buddha Jagriti Society, India

  119. GEADIRR, Cameroon

  120. GegenStroemung - CounterCurrent, Germany

  121. Global and Community Action Team at Kamloops United Church, Canada

  122. Global Forest Coalition

  123. Global Non-State Actors Disaster Risk Reduction Network, Kenya

  124. Global Rights, Nigeria

  125. Good Choice Nepal

  126. Grand Riverkeeper Labrador, inc, Canada 

  127. Green Advocates International, Liberia

  128. Green Alternative, Georgia

  129. Green Innovation and Development Centre, Vietnam

  130. Grow with the Flow, The Netherlands

  131. Guild of Environmental Journalist of the St.Petersburg and Leningradskaya Province, Russia

  132. Heinrich Böll Stiftung Washington, DC, United States

  133. Holarctic Bridges, Canada

  134. HOPE Worldwide-Pakistan, New Zealand

  135. HRM "Bir Duino Kyrgyzstan"

  136. ibdnext technoprise, Bangladesh

  137. Inclusive Development International, United States

  138. Initiative for the Development of Africa (IDA-Ghana)

  139. Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf Alive, North (Turkish) Kurdistan

  140. Institute for Environmental Policy, Albania

  141. Instituto Caracol, Brazil

  142. Instituto Madeira Vivo (IMV), Brazil

  143. Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA)

  144. International Accountability Project (IAP)

  145. International Rivers

  146. Interregional NGO "Center for Public Health", Russia

  147. JAGO NARI (Fighting For Women Empowerment), Bangladesh

  148. Jamaa Resource Initiatives, Kenya

  149. Japan River Keeper Alliance

  150. Jeunes Volontaires pour l'Environnement, Togo

  151. Jhanjira Samaj Kallyan Sangstha (JSKS), Bangladesh

  152. KAIROS BC-Yukon, Canada

  153. Keepers of the Athabasca, Canada

  154. Kostroma Public Movement "For the sake of life", Russia

  155. Koubaru Project, Japan

  156. Krisoker Sor (Farmers' Voice), Bangladesh

  157. KRuHA, Indonesia

  158. Legambiente Piacenza Circolo Emilio Politi, Italy

  159. LIR Evolution, Bosnia & Herzegovina

  160. Local Initiatives Development Agency, Kenya

  161. LUTRA, Institute for Conservation of Natural Heritage, Slovenia

  162. Manadisaster Organization, Rwanda

  163. Manushya Foundation, Thailand / Laos

  164. Mediterranean Institute for Nature and Anthropos (MedINA), Greece

  165. Mekong Watch, Japan

  166. Mesopotamia Ecology Movement, North (Turkish) Kurdistan

  167. Milwaukee Riverkeeper, United States

  168. MISEREOR - Catholic Bishop's Organisation for Development Cooperation, Germany

  169. Mom Loves Taiwan Association, Taiwan

  170. Movimento Tutela Arzino, Italy 

  171. Multi-stakeholders Initiative for Humanitarian Action against Disasters (MIHANDS), Philippines

  172. Museu Goeldi, Brazil

  173. Nak Akphivath Sahakum (NAS), Cambodia

  174. NGO BROC, Vladivostok, Russia

  175. NGO Forum on ADB

  176. NGO Forum on Cambodia

  177. NGO Green Home, Montenegro

  178. NGO Leeway Collective as Balkan River Defence, Slovenia

  179. North American Megadams Resistance Alliance

  180. North Caucasus Environmental Watch, Russia

  181. Olympic 2002 - Plovdiv, Bulgaria

  182. OMEP (World Organisation for Early Childhood Education) Cameroon

  183. ONG ANAD, Mauritania

  184. ONG Mer Bleue, Mauritania

  185. ONG PADJENA, Benin

  186. Onggi River Movement, Mongolia

  187. Operação Amazônia Nativa (OPAN), Brazil

  188. Oyu Tolgoi Watch, Mongolia

  189. Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum

  190. Pambansang Kliusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka (PAKISAMA), Philippines

  191. Pashan Baner Tekdi Bachao Kruti Samiti, India

  192. Peace Bridges Organization, Cambodia

  193. Peace Valley Environment Association, Canada

  194. Peace Valley Landowner Association, Canada

  195. Peachland Watershed Protection Alliance, Canada

  196. People and Nature Reconciliation, Vietnam

  197. PIAD, DRC

  198. Pindos Perivallontiki, Greece

  199. Planète Amazone, France

  200. Plataforma contra la especulación urbanística y ambiental de Candeleda, Spain

  201. Plataforma Contra las Interconexiones Eléctricas RECAEL, Spain

  202. Plataforma de Toledo en Defensa del Tajo, Spain

  203. Plataforma por el Hospital Comercial en el Valle del Tiétar, Spain

  204. Plotina.Net, Russia

  205. Poets for the Peace, Canada

  206. Pravo na vodu / Right To Water, Serbia

  207. PREPARED, Pakistan

  208. Projeto Saude e Alegria, Brazil

  209. Pune SPNF, India

  210. PVLA, Canada 

  211. Radanar Ayar Association, Myanmar

  212. Ramsar Network Japan

  213. RAVEN (Respecting Aboriginal Values and Environmental Needs), Canada

  214. Red por los Ríos Libres, Chile

  215. Red Uruguaya de ONGs Ambientalistas, Uruguay

  216. Rede Pantanal e a Ecoa, Brazil

  217. Respiro Verde Legalberi, Italy

  218. River Intellectuals, The Netherlands

  219. Rivers without Boundaries International Coalition

  220. Rivers without Boundaries-Mongolia

  221. Riverwatch, Austria

  222. Russian Socio-Ecological Union (RSEU)

  223. Sakhalin Environment Watch, Russia

  224. Salviamo il Paesaggio Valdossola, Italy 

  225. Salviamola Fuina, Italy

  226. SAVE Rivers, Malaysia

  227. Save The Tigris Campaign, Iraq

  228. Say "No" to Site C Dam, Canada

  229. Scientists4Mekong, Australia 

  230. Secure Future Africa, Zimbabwe

  231. SFBSP-Burundi

  232. Slovene Dragonfly Society (Slovensko odonatološko društvo), Slovenia

  233. Slovenian Native Fish Society (Društvo za preučevanje rib Slovenije)

  234. Snowfinch, L’Aquila, Italy

  235. Society for Cave Biology, Slovenia

  236. Socio-Ecological Union International

  237. South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers & People (SANDRP), India

  238. Stop Site C, Canada

  239. Sukaar Welfare Organization, Pakistan

  240. Sustainable Eel Group, UK

  241. T.e.r.r.a srl, Italy

  242. Taiga Research and Protection Agency, Russia

  243. Tajik Social and Ecological Union, Tajikistan

  244. Tatarstan Socio-ecological Union, Russia

  245. Terre des Jeunes (TDJ), Burundi

  246. The Corner House, UK

  247. The Jordanian Society of Friends of Heritage, Jordan

  248. The Slovenian Association for Bat Research and Conservation, Slovenia

  249. Tinada Youth Organization (TIYO), Kenya

  250. TOKA Albania

  251. Tonle Sap Lake Waterkeeper, Cambodia

  252. Toxic Action Network Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan

  253. TRADENER, Basque Country

  254. Tri-People's Organization against Disasters (TRIPOD), Philippines

  255. Udruženje "Temska", Serbia

  256. Udruženje za zaštitu velike droplje, Serbia

  257. Ukana West 2 Community Based Health Initiative (CBHI), Nigeria

  258. urgewald, Germany

  259. Vasundhara Swachhata Abhiyan, India

  260. Vietnam River Network

  261. VRAT, India

  262. Water Justice and Gender, Peru

  263. Watershed Watch Salmon Society, Canada

  264. Wetland Conservation Centre (Centrum Ochrony Mokradeł), Poland

  265., Uganda

  266. World Heritage Watch, Germany

  267. World Vision Lanka, Sri Lanka

  268. World Wetland Network, Australia

  269. WWT, UK

  270. Yamba Dam Project, Japan

  271. Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan, India

  272. Youth For Environment Education And Development Foundation (YFEED Foundation), Nepal

  273. Youth Resource Development Program (YRDP), Cambodia

  274. Zoldo c’è e difende i suoi torrenti, Italy

  275. #SomosMaipo, Chile

  276. 4x4x4 Balkan Bridges, North Macedonia


Monday, December 9, 2019