The World Bank has been talking more and more about focusing its support on clean energy projects, and apparently it has been putting much more into clean energy lately. “The World Bank’s lending for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects increased by 300 percent between fiscal year 2007 and fiscal year 2010, to a record $3.4 billion,” Timothy Hurst of ecopolitology reports.
However, while that alone might look really good, it’s also important to note that lending for fossil fuels increased 430 percent in the same time period. Lending for coal plants reached a record $4.4 billion and lending for fossil-fuel projects, in total, reached a record $6.3 billion.
This is despite the World Bank admitting a couple years ago that climate change is one of the biggest threats to the development of poor countries.
“In its actions, the World Bank has deviated from its rhetoric,” says Janet Redman, co-director of the Sustainable Energy and Economy Network at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington. “It has not done clean energy when it could. It has not prioritized clean energy sources over traditional fossil-fuel sources. And it is constantly stalling on one very important policy: calculating the greenhouse-gas emissions produced by its own projects.”
One of the biggest disappointments of late was in April when the World Bank approved the world’s fourth-largest coal power plant in South Africa, a 4,800-MW plant. (The U.S., Great Britain, the Netherlands, and Italy showed their disapproval for this project by abstaining from the vote,.. a typical, but, in my opinion, not very brave way of showing disapproval.)
Another clear failure was giving support to a 4,000-MW coal plant in India. The World Bank is supporting the emission of 50 million tons of carbon dioxide a year with these two projects alone, about equal to Ireland’s total emissions.
While the World Bank recently appointed Daniel M. Kammen as its “clean tech czar,” I am still hesitant to believe it is planning to live up to its responsibility to address and limit the devastating effects of climate change.
Photo Credit: Señor Codo via flickr (Creative Commons license)
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