World Bank fossil fuel exploration reached new high in 2013

9 May 2014

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its latest report in April highlighting that “the consequences of unchecked climate change for humans and natural ecosystems are already apparent and increasing.” The same month, World Bank president, Jim Yong Kim, met with the IMF, the United Nations and country finance ministers during the World Bank-IMF spring meeting to discuss climate change. Before the meeting, Kim told reporters: “we are here all together because we know that the world needs to fight climate change with much, much greater seriousness”. This follows restrictions on coal funding announced last year (see Observer Spring 2014, Bulletin Feb 2014).

However, an April report by US based NGO, the World Resources Institute, exposed that only 25 per cent of Bank projects (from a sample of 60 projects approved between January 2012 and June 2013) had made an assessment of climate change impacts. Furthermore, an analysis published the same month by Oil Change International, a US based research and advocacy organisation, found that 2013 was a peak year for Bank spending on fossil fuel extraction. In 2013, $1 billion went to fossil fuel extraction, out of a total $2.7 billion spent on fossil fuel projects. Oil Change International also raised concerns about the Bank’s neglect of projects aimed at expanding energy access for the poor. Whilst 40 per cent of the Bank’s energy financing in 2013 involved fossil fuels, only 8 per cent aimed at expanding energy access. The analysis concludes that “given the world’s rapidly warming climate and shrinking carbon budget, public finance from the World Bank should be redirected from fossil fuels toward projects that promote renewable energy and energy access.”