Connecting The Dots

Following Fossil Fuel Finance in Asia

Asia is the battleground for resistance against dirty energy.

An international environmental group, Market Forces, revealed in 2017 that foreign governments and banks are financing the boom in coal-fired power in Asia. They do this through export credit agencies or development banks.
They aren’t the only ones, though. Developed Asian countries like Japan have made big investments in dirty energy. Low-income communities in developing countries like the Philippines, Indonesia, and Bangladesh are reeling from the impacts of these coal power plants. They continue to suffer from health impacts, loss of livelihoods and human rights violations. They are being sacrificed despite false promises of progress by their respective governments.
Still, these communities are putting up a fight against fossil fuel investments. They need our support. That’s why we at 350 Asia bring you “Connecting the Dots”. Now, you, too, can see what it’s like to live in the shadow of dirty energy.
Join us and follow the money from the sites of the impact of fossil fuels to the institutions whose investments are enabling this dirty energy.

Connecting the Dots

This e-book presents stories of life lived in the shadow of dirty energy. These are from communities in Matarbari, Bangladesh, Bataan, the Philippines, and Indramayu, Indonesia.

It includes a chapter on the connection between fossil fuel investments and Japanese banks.

Four investigative journalists captured these stories showcasing the impacts of coal power plants on these communities.

These communities continue to resist the fossil fuel industry’s greed and dirty tactics to this day.

This book also features high-quality multimedia content. This includes photos, videos, and compelling illustrations communicating the big picture. It illustrates the impacts of fossil fuel investments on grassroots communities. It exposes mega banks’ focus on market-based “false solutions” that do not address the real problem. These “false solutions” include gas, hydrogen, ammonia, and carbon capture and storage (CCS). Such interventions do not challenge capitalist overconsumption. They, in turn, ensure future dependence on dirty energy.
We know there is an alternative.
We need to invest in community-led solutions that focus on the people’s and the planet’s well-being. One way could be through bilateral and multilateral climate finance agreements. Ones that are transparent and inclusive in their deliberations. Another way could be setting up solar-powered energy projects. The kind that is owned and operated by those who need it most. Whatever the case, all solutions must provide equity and energy justice for all.

Matarbari, Bangladesh


Locals evicted by the Matarbari Power Plant are still left in the lurch.

Story by Mostafa Yousuf

Afsari Begum* had better days before 2014. Residing in the southern Bangladesh village of Matarbari, her husband and son had a steady-enough income to make ends meet for their family of five. Then, in August 2014, they were promised a prosperous future. The government was acquiring “the lone source of the family’s income” — the salt field — in order to build a coal-based power plant.

With the land devoured by the power plant, both her family’s breadwinners turned into rickshaw pullers in the port city of Chattogram, 160 kilometers north of Matarbari. However, her husband, in his 60s, could not continue this backbreaking profession as his health was deteriorating. He succumbed to his illness and died a few months ago.


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Indramayu, Indonesia


How a coal power plant threatens lives and livelihoods on the North Coast of Java

Story by Dhana Kencana

Surmi’s sheep won’t stop bleating this afternoon. When their owner comes to feed them, they suddenly grow silent and calm.

Surmi Warsan, born in Mekarsari Village in 1972, herds 19 sheep with care, in a six by three metre barn. She regularly visits the barn to clean it, feed the sheep, and check on their health. She often needs to find out if there is a pregnant or sick sheep in the herd.

Surmi has done this twice a day, every morning and afternoon, for the last five months. She chooses to herd the sheep as her body does not allow her to work on a farm after a doctor discovered an issue with her eyes.


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Bataan, The Philippines


As a 600-kilowatt coal-fired power plant threatens the community’s health and livelihood, residents call for a health study to explain the onslaught of skin and respiratory diseases in their town

Story by Mariejo S. Ramos

During World War II, soldiers from Bataan province joined the main resistance of the Americans in the war against the Japanese.

But the long period of battle eventually left Filipino fighters defenseless, as they suffered from hunger, wounds, disease, and death.

Today, the people of a coastal town in Limay, Bataan province believe that the enemy is no longer foreign invaders, but a 600-kilowatt coal-fired power plant built on their land.

They remain at war with the daily whiff of white smoke from the plant’s chimneys and the ominous sound of its engines that spell the “slow death”—as they describe it—of residents who live just a few meters away from the colossal structure.

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Japanese finance:


Loopholes in Japanese mega banks’ climate finance policies are extending fossil fuel use. This is worsening the impacts on vulnerable communities in this region. They do so by encouraging the use of technologies that experts call “false solutions”. Some examples of these are carbon capture and storage (CCS); mixed combustion and the positioning of natural gas as a transition fuel.

Japan continues to invest in fossil fuels and dangerous new energy plans for Asia.

But Japan isn’t immune to the growing global momentum to phase out coal-fired power. In June 2022, they announced plans to stop funding coal-fired power plant expansions in Bangladesh and Indonesia.
Japan’s megabanks like Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG), Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group (SMBC Group), and the Mizuho Financial Group (Mizuho FG) also aim to divest from coal power by 2040. They also want to achieve net zero emissions across their financial portfolios by 2050.
Yet, Japan and its three mega banks support technologies that are “false solutions”. Experts say these technologies are not in line with the Paris 1.5°C pathways. They do little to enable a meaningful energy transition, and are much costlier than renewables.
All three mega banks have set reduction targets for their investments in oil and gas. Unfortunately, they focus on reducing carbon intensity rather than reducing absolute emissions.
Carbon intensity measures the amount of greenhouse gasses (GHG) emitted per kilowatt hour of electricity produced across their portfolio and not the total amount of emissions on the ground.
Download the e-book to learn more
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Connecting the Dots

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Loss of livelihoods, deteriorating health and displacement are the legacy of those who fund the fossil fuel industry. Extraction has wrecked our communities and our planet, and the hands that have paid for it are dirty.

This exposé focuses on what these impacts look like for four communities across Asia. We shine a light on how decisions made in boardrooms miles away impact thousands of lives.

These communities deserve compensation for the loss and damage they’ve incurred. Who better to pay for it than the fossil fuel industry and their financiers who are responsible for this situation? There is a way forward. The solutions for a safe and livable future are within our grasp, but they need the necessary investments to make this future a reality.
The movement for this transition has begun.
In the Philippines, the Solar Scholars are building community-owned renewable energy systems for their communities to use. In Indonesia, the Just Energy Transition Partnership is monitored by climate activists to ensure transparency. In Bangladesh, young people are coming together at the Green New Deal hub to discuss the direction of Bangladesh’s transition to renewable energy.
With pressure mounting on financial institutions to end funding of fossil fuels, it is time for polluters to shift those financial flows into renewable energy. Energy that is safe, equitable and prioritizes energy justice for all.
Energy must be affordable and controlled by communities that need it, particularly those on the frontlines of devastating fossil fuel extraction.