A committee of British MPs is calling for the UK to retract funding from the World Bank until it stops loaning money to poor countries to build dirty power stations.
Britain contributes $2 billion per year to the World Bank, making it the Bank’s second largest shareholder. However, a review by the House of Commons environmental audit committee claimed that the Bank’s continual funding of fossil fuel powered energy plants is disrupting attempts to reduce carbon emissions and global poverty.
The MPs are further calling for the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) to reassess its funding for other multilateral agency. They want to ensure that the DFID only provides funding for agencies that effectively manage their environmental impacts.
However, some people may be wondering exactly what the connection is between fossil fuel use and global poverty. After all, won’t additional energy plants in the developing world provide increased economic prosperity to poorer populations?
The latest scientific research reveals that the opposite is in fact true.
Back in 2002, the London School of Economics released a report explicating the link between climate change and poverty in the developing world. They argued that rising global temperatures and local water shortages would negatively impact crop production and decrease food security in the developing world. Furthermore, developing countries would be disproportionally affected by sea level rise and extreme weather events associated with a warming planet. Since then, numerous other scientific publications have been released, highlighting the links between poverty and climate change.
What the developing world needs is renewable energy. The world simply cannot sustain further amounts of fossil fuel use; in fact, additional fossil fuel use will exacerbate poverty, not alleviate it.
The technology is there, although it obviously requires substantially more amounts of financial capital to install. But these additional funds should not be seen as an additional cost. Instead, they should be viewed as an investment for the developing world, so that they may achieve sustained economic growth well into the future without damaging the Earth’s atmosphere.
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