Civil society and entrepreneurs call on World Bank to clean up energy lending
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Over 55 development, faith, human rights, community, and environmental groups from more than 20 countries teamed up today to ask World Bank President Jim Kim to end Bank support for all fossil fuel projects unless the projects are solely focused on directly increasing energy access for the poor. The letter suggests that absent meeting this demand, donor countries should not provide the Bank with new capital.
The letter follows on the heels of a call yesterday from 22 of the world’s leading off-grid clean energy entrepreneurs, asking for $500 million in finance to support their sector’s delivery of energy access.
“If President Kim is serious about taking the World Bank in a new direction on climate change and real clean energy access, he needs to put the Bank’s money where his mouth is,” said Sunita Dubey of Vasudha Foundation (India). “The World Bank’s current support for fossil fuel projects does little to promote energy access while doing a lot to exacerbate climate change. That needs to be flipped on its head.”
Since his start as President of the World Bank, Dr. Kim has spoken repeatedly about the severe consequences of climate change for people in developing countries and has been forceful in calls for reducing poverty in those same communities to increase resilience to climate change.
But the World Bank has funded over $18 billion in fossil fuel projects over the last 5 years – nearly half of its energy lending. Adding insult to injury for many affected by severe weather, the institution has indicated that it will continue to fund new large-scale fossil fuel projects, such as the proposed massive coal plant in Kosovo.
The letter, which is signed by development, environment, faith-based, human rights, and community groups, says that the World Bank cannot meaningfully address climate change unless its lending practices do not further exacerbate the climate crisis.
“The Bank argues that lending for fossil fuels is important for achieving development goals for the world’s poorest. But the Bank’s fossil fuel projects consistently fail to target the poor or to ensure that energy benefits reach them. In fact, financing dirty energy projects only adds to the problem of climate change, which disproportionately harms people living in poverty,” said Janet Redman of the Institute for Policy Studies.
The poverty reduction goals at the Bank could better be achieved through improving energy access for the poorest with decentralized renewable energy. The International Energy Agency has shown that investments in off-grid, clean energy need to be ramped up to actually deliver quality energy access.
The civil society and energy practitioner letters come at a time when the World Bank is seeking a replenishment of funds from the U.S. Congress, and at least rhetorically, expansion for energy access.
“As long as the World Bank continues to fund oil, gas and coal – the climate impacts of which directly undermine the Bank’s mission to alleviate poverty – the institution does not merit additional funding for its efforts,” said Elizabeth Bast of Oil Change International.
Karen Orenstein, Friends of the Earth, 202-222-0717, [email protected]
Elizabeth Bast, Oil Change International, 202-641-7203, [email protected]
Justin Guay, Sierra Club, 202-664-6460, [email protected]
Amanda Kistler, Center for International Environmental Law, 202-742-5832, [email protected]
Janet Redman, Institute for Policy Studies, 508-340-0464, [email protected]