World Bank Climate Initiatives Come Under Fire

World Bank Climate Initiatives Come Under Fire



Nick Berning, 202-222-0748; Janet Redman, 508-340-0464; Steve Kretzmann, 202-497-1033; Samuel Nguiffo, 646-339-5764;

Watchdog groups take aim at new ‘Climate Investment Funds;’ report exposes World Bank’s 256 percent increase in support for coal

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Two days before the World Bank’s annual meetings, a coalition of watchdog and nonprofit groups exposed World Bank lending for dirty projects and urged individual nations to refrain from supporting the World Bank’s new “Climate Investment Funds.”

The groups released a report today titled “Dirty is the New Clean: A Critique of the World Bank’s Strategic Framework for Development and Climate Change.” The report argues that the World Bank’s track record disqualifies it from managing clean technology transfer and climate adaptation funds. Instead, the groups argue, such funds should be established under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, in order to ensure they are used equitably and effectively, in accordance with the principle of common but differentiated responsibility, and that nations receiving financing are thoroughly involved in funds’ design and implementation.

“The World Bank has a very troubling track record on climate change. It has repeatedly invested in dirty projects and called them ‘clean,'” said Janet Redman of the Institute for Policy Studies and the lead author of the report. “It is beyond ridiculous for the World Bank to continue to claim that projects such as the Tata coal plant in India—expected to be one of the world’s top 50 global warming polluters—are part of the solution to the climate crisis. The World Bank cannot be trusted to oversee climate change funding.”

The groups’ analysis shows that World Bank Group lending to coal, oil and gas in 2008 increased 94 percent from 2007, reaching over $3 billion. Coal lending alone increased an astonishing 256 percent.

The World Bank claimed major increases in fiscal year 2008 in its renewable energy and energy efficiency lending, but the vast majority of that comes from environmentally and socially destructive large hydropower projects and energy efficiency. Lending for “new” renewables—wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, and hydropower projects that produce up to 10 MW per facility—only increased from $421 million to $476 million from last fiscal year, representing a 13 percent increase, not the 87 percent that the World Bank claims.

“The World Bank provided political and financial support to Exxon and the Chadian government for the Chad-Cameroon oil pipeline. Precisely as we warned the World Bank years ago, its support for this pipeline established a new petrol dictatorship in Africa. The World Bank is now withdrawing from the project, but who is left to deal with the monster that it created? Our people are worse off and the local environment is ravaged. We are outraged by the suggestion that this same World Bank is now planning to administer climate change funds,” said Samuel Nguiffo of Friends of the Earth Cameroon.

Under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, to which the U.S. is a party, industrialized countries most responsible for global warming are obligated to finance clean technology and adaptation to climate impacts in developing countries.

“Developing countries have clearly articulated at multiple UN climate negotiations that financing for climate change mitigation and adaptation should be fully accountable to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. It is simply wrong for the World Bank—an undemocratic, unaccountable institution—to have any role in controlling climate financing,” said Karen Orenstein of Friends of the Earth US.

Groups including ActionAid USA, Campagna per la Riforma della Banca Mondiale, Friends of the Earth, Institute for Policy Studies, Jubilee South Asia Pacific Movement on Debt and Development, Jubilee USA Network, and Oil Change International planned to engage attendees at this weekend’s meeting to urge the World Bank to transform its approach to climate change.

Photo opportunity:
Some of the groups will organize a demonstration on Friday in which they will be painting oil barrels and lumps of coal green to symbolize the World Bank’s “greenwashing” of these dirty energy sources. The demonstration is scheduled to take place at the intersection of 18th and H Streets NW in Washington, D.C. at 11:00 a.m. on Friday.

For more information, please view these resources:

Two page factsheet on World Bank Group Fossil Fuel Financing, 2004 to 2008:

New “Dirty is the New Clean” report on World Bank’s climate framework:

Two-page World Bank and Climate factsheet: /Climate_Investment_Funds/WorldBank-ClimateOverview.pdf



Action Aid USA Campagna per la riforma della Banca mondiale (CRBM) is a Rome-based coalition of 41 Italian development NGOs, environmental associations and human right groups advocating that international financial institutions and Italian investment agencies should promote environmentally and socially sustainable investment in solidarity with local communities affected by projects and investment worldwide.

Friends of the Earth ( is the U.S. voice of the world’s largest grassroots environmental network, with member groups in 70 countries. Since 1969, Friends of the Earth has fought to create a more healthy, just world.

The Institute for Policy Studies (

Oil Change International (