World Bank’s Climate Investment Funds: Dirty is Clean

A coalition of public watchdog groups earlier this month issued a scathing report criticizing the World Bank’s clean technology investments. The track record laid out in the World Bank Group’s “Climate Investment Funds” reports should immediately disqualify it from managing clean technology transfer and climate adaptation funds, according to “Dirty is the New Clean: A Critique of World Bank’s Strategic Framework for Development and Climate Change.”

The World Bank has a woeful record when it comes to making what it claims are clean tech investments earmarked to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change in developing countries around the world, according to the report, much of it based on the World Bank’s own figures.

The World Bank Group’s lending to develop coal, oil and natural gas resources rose to more than $3 billion in 2008, a 94% year-over-year increase, at a juncture where the Group is lobbying for authority to control billions of dollars worth of public clean tech investment funds.

Lending to develop coal projects increased a whopping 256%. What’s really incredible is that the World Bank has made these investments as part of funds earmarked for its “Climate Investment Funds.”

Not to be trusted
“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, the report’s lead author.

“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 vast majority of the increases in renewable energy and energy efficiency lending the World Bank has claimed in fiscal 2008 comes from large hydropower projects and energy efficiency. In stark contrast lending for emerging renewables—wind, solar, biomass, geothermal and small-scale hydropower projects—increased from $421 million to $476 million, a 13% increase. The World Bank actually claimed that it increased such investments 87%.

“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,” stated Samuel Nguiffo of Friends of the Earth Cameroon.

“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.”

The groups argue that instead of granting the World Bank control over such funds they 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.”

To download a copy of the report follow this link. A World Bank Climate Investment Fund Fact Sheet can be downloaded here.

Andrew Burger
Andrew Burger
A product of the New York City public school system, Andrew Burger went on to study geology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, work in the wholesale money and capital markets for a major Japanese bank and earn an MBA in finance.

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  1. The World Bank has the potential of fostering dramatic change throughout the developing world. Unfortunately, many of their practices and policies rely on old-world methods and connections to companies and governments that pursue their own self-interest as opposed to the citizens they are supposed to serve.


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