The World Bank has in the past been one of the biggest funders of fossil fuel projects, and has been accused of contributing to climate change in that way. However, now World Bank President Jim Yong Kim has said the bank will invest heavily in clean energy and only fund coal projects “in circumstances of extreme need,” because escalating climate change threatens to undermine efforts to eliminate extreme poverty in the world.
Kim also said the World Bank believes “very strongly” that the poorest countries have a right to energy and that they should not be asked to wait until there are ways of ensuring solar and wind power “can provide the kind of base-load that all countries need in order to industrialize.” However, the bank will only contemplate funding fossil fuel projects in the poorest countries, where no other base load power can be sourced at a reasonable price.
He acknowledged that the world cannot continue down the path of unchecked, rising emissions, and that swift action on climate change must be taken. Despite the coal pledge, the World Bank has made no commitment to cut funding for new oil or other fossil fuel exploration. Since 2008, the bank has funded a massive $21 billion worth of fossil fuel projects, including $1 billion in 2013 alone.