IFI governance


World Bank Plans Profitable CO2 Trading

15 January 1998

The Kyoto climate change meeting in December brought together ministers from 160 countries to agree binding restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions. After contentious talks they agreed that within the next 15 years countries should reduce by an average of 5.2 percent their emissions of the gases blamed for the greenhouse effect.

A “clean development mechanism” (CDM) will also be established. Originally proposed by Southern countries as a way to fine countries which surpass their emissions quota, the CDM has become a means to excuse rich nations’ emissions if they help developing countries reduce theirs. The rules for emissions trading will be discusses at a meeting this November in Buenos Aires.

The World Bank wants to supplement the trade between industrialized countries by establishing a Carbon Investment Fund (CIF) which would foster trade with economies in transition and subsequently to all Southern countries. World Bank Environment Director Bob Watson says the CIF

” would work like a closed-end mutual fund which industrialised countries and the private sector could pay into. The Bank would then invest for them in reducing carbon emission in projects in transitional economies and potentially in developing countries”.

The Bank wants to charge a five percent commission on all CIF transactions. Internal documents show that this would net a projected $100 million per year, around 60% as ‘profit’.

A small number of groups have been asked to participate in consultations on the CIF. NGOs are asking for the consultations to be broadened and are expressing concerns about:

  • the conflict of interest if the Bank profits from emissions trading while financing fossil fuel developments;
  • calling for a full, transparent evaluation of the pilot phase of joint implementation projects before the CDM is agreed.

Before the Kyoto meeting hundreds of NGOs signed a statement calling for phase out of World Bank and other multilateral and bilateral lending, credit and guarantees for fossil fuel extracation and development.

The declaration and related reports are available at the following web site: www.igc.org/ifps/