The World Bank's Climate Change Shenanigans

The World Bank’s Climate Change Shenanigans

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The World Bank is one of the most well known providers of financing to developing countries for “development” projects. But over the years, the Bank has shown time and again that it sees development finance as being more about helping large multinational corporations set up shop in developing countries than it is about helping people out of poverty.

With the rising awareness and urgency of climate change, the World Bank sees another business opportunity. It has already put itself in charge of several carbon finance funds – the Bank facilitates setting up projects in developing countries that will hypothetically reduce future carbon emissions in exchange for money from Europe and other industrialized countries. But these projects have proven incredibly problematic. Not only does it give industrialized countries a way out of reducing their own emissions internally, but many projects perpetuate or cause environmental and social problems on their own.

The Bank has also been appointed by the G8 to take a lead on “clean energy” financing for the developing world. But at the same time it claims to care about clean energy, the Bank continues to finance billions of greenhouse gas producing fossil fuel projects each year. And the proposals by the bank for clean energy financing emphasize false solutions, like carbon capture and storage and large hydropower. With these plans, the Bank will continue to push governments into costly projects that will benefit large industries and will not help people.

Jubilee South, a campaign for debt cancellation in developing countries, is holding a conference on financial institutions, climate and debt during the UN Conference. I spoke on a panel today explaining the hypocrisies of the World Bank and other financial institutions with regard to climate change.

Debt and the problems of climate change are incredibly interlinked. Debts have been created from financing for fossil fuel projects pushed on poor governments by financial institutions. These projects destroy the local environment and peoples’ livelihoods in addition to perpetuating climate change. Climate change then comes back to harm developing countries through weather problems and agricultural impacts, further threatening development.

Jubilee South has picked up on these themes and created an appropriate slogan: “Debts that contribute to climate change are illegitimate.” And I even got a cool t-shirt saying so!