The World Bank has indicated that due to the impacts of climate change on poverty, it will cease its funding of coal projects and increase its support for renewable sources of energy. The announcement came from World Bank President Jim Yong Kim in an address ahead of COP 20, the UN climate summit scheduled to take place in Lima, Peru next month.
Kim related the decision to a report that his organization commissioned which showed how the world’s poorest people will be impacted by extreme weather, declining agricultural yields, water instability, communicable diseases and flooding from higher sea levels.
Kim explained that even if we act soon to reduce emissions, warming of at least 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels is locked in and this will cause more warming alongside a host of other deleterious effects.
“The stakes have never been higher. We cannot continue down the current path of unchecked growing emissions. The case for taking action now on climate change is overwhelming, and the cost of inaction will only rise,” he said.
The report also clearly stated that action on emissions need not come at the expense of economic growth
The move to reject coal is an important step given that the bank is one of world’s largest supporters of fossil fuels. In addition to ending support for coal projects Kim also advocated on behalf of renewables and cleaner forms of energy.
“The focus is on being able to ramp up our lending and the leveraging of our lending into all forms of renewable energy. That’s the strategy. It includes everything from all sizes of hydro through to wind, to solar, to concentrated solar, to geothermal. I think we’re invested in every dimension of renewable energy.”
However, if the Bank is to be consistent it must also withdraw all its support for fossil fuels which according to Oil Change International amounts to $21 billion since 2008. Last year alone the Bank poured $1 billion into oil and gas exploration.
Scientists have repeatedly warned that if we are to have a hope of keeping temperature increases under the internationally agreed upon upper threshold limit of 2 degrees Celsius below pre-industrial times, we must keep more than two thirds of known global oil reserves in the ground.
In light of this information supporting the search for more fossil fuels in incompatible with attempts to curtail climate change.
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