PanAfrica: World Bank's Climate Plan Fails to Show the Right Path
A new report from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund on "clean energy" due out on April 22 acknowledges the severe impacts of climate change on developing countries but still steers future energy policy in the wrong direction, according to Friends of the Earth International.
The report, called 'Clean Energy and Development: Towards An Investment Framework,' was approved by the World Bank's board and is expected to be validated at the Bank's Spring Meetings on April 22 and 23.
Local communities and the environment would bear the consequences of the increase in unsustainable energy investments around the world that the new plan would bring.
“This proposal from the Bank does not suggest a strong ambition to re-direct financing away from existing fossil fuel patterns, or to deliver sustainable energy to the two billion people currently without,” said Catherine Pearce of Friends of the Earth International.
“The technologies which seem to be receiving interest from the Bank include those with damaging social and environmental impacts, such as nuclear, large dams and so-called 'clean coal'. It is widely understood that these technologies will not help to bring people out of poverty, which is the World Bank's mission,” added Catherine Pearce.
“We will only be able to take the World Bank's proposals to combat climate change seriously if it decides to stop subsiding dirty fossil fuel projects,” said Janneke Bruil of Friends of the Earth International. “Currently, the World Bank is too committed to the oil, gas and coal mining industry”.
Even though it states that rich nations "will remain the largest per capita emitters of greenhouse gases," the new World Bank report does not encourage these nations to play a leading role in fighting climate change by aggressively reducing emissions of greenhouse gases.
“G8 countries currently release 45 per cent of today's global emissions, and are the main decision makers in the World Bank. As such they are in a position to make a significant contribution to the fight against climate change” said Elizabeth Bast of Friends of the Earth US.
“Climate change is a serious and immediate problem for us in Nepal because of rapid glacial melting, especially on the Himalaya. The World Bank and the industrialized countries should take real and immediate action because ultimately climate change has been created by the developed world,” said Prakash Sharma from ProPublic/Friends of the Earth Nepal.
The Group of Eight (G8) richest nations at their Gleneagles Summit last July asked the World Bank to propose a plan for a sustainable energy future. The World Bank's new report acknowledges that just the cost of adapting to climate change is likely to be between 10 and 40 billion dollars per year. But instead of responding to those needs, the World Bank plans to continue funding substantial amounts of dirty fossil fuel projects. In 2005, only 10% of the Bank's energy financing went to renewable energy or energy efficiency.
Two billion people currently have no access to energy services. Introducing clean, affordable, decentralised renewable energy services can help alleviate poverty, reduce regional and local air and water pollution, generate jobs and income, empower local communities and promote gender equity.
Friends of the Earth believes that energy projects should be subject to input and approval by local communities and civil society and that the World Bank should present clear CO2 reduction commitments with targets and timetables.
Friends of the Earth campaigners from Asia, Africa, Central America and Europe, are in Washington DC April 19-26 to demand that the World Bank and the US Congress respond to the real needs and challenges that climate change poses to the world.