U.S. allows financing for new oil project at IDB Group Board, contradicting climate policies

WASHINGTON, D.C .- Last week, major country shareholders on the Board of the Inter-American Development Bank Group (IDBG), including the United States, refused to stop public financing approval for an oil port facility in Suriname. Expanding this particular port is part of facilitating the development of Total and ExxonMobil’s new oil discoveries in blocks 58 and 59, estimated to contain at least 3 to 4 billion barrels of oil. Although the United States and Germany abstained from voting, citing fossil fuel concerns, the project was still approved. 

This vote was the first known test applying the US government’s new policies restricting financing for fossil fuels abroad, including at the multilateral development banks (MDBs) in which it participates. By failing to vote ‘NO’ on this project, the Biden Administration contradicted its own policies, which state the U.S. must “oppose” oil projects. Furthermore, this outcome demonstrates that the U.S. voting guidance is ineffective as a tool for enforcing its position on fossil fuel financing at MDBs.

A full analysis of the implications of this vote can be found here.

In response, climate, energy and gender justice groups issued the following statements:

“The U.S. government’s ineffective guidance on fossil fuel financing at MDBs reflects its unwillingness to rigorously act on climate.” said Luisa Galvao, International Policy Campaigner at Friends of the Earth U.S. “We cannot talk about climate leadership while sitting out on votes for fossil fuel projects at MDB Boards. The U.S. must keep its word by strengthening guidance to ensure that U.S. public funds go towards helping countries embark on a just transition to clean, prosperous and inclusive development pathways.” 

“The U.S. government’s failure to say no to fossil fuel projects is compounded by the IDBG’s failure to admit the port’s role exporting newly extracted oil contributes to global climate change. Turning a blind eye contradicts both parties’ commitment to the Paris Agreement and the International Energy Agency’s conclusion that our planet cannot withstand new fossil fuel-generating investments”, said Elaine Zuckerman of Gender Action.

Press contact: Kerry Skiff, [email protected], 202-222-0723

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