Bretton Woods Project environmental advocacy

Monitoring the implementation of the World Bank’s climate commitments

At the One Planet Summit in 2017, the World Bank Group announced a series of climate commitments, including that it would phase out project lending for ‘upstream’ oil and gas by the end of 2019, begin tracking the greenhouse gas emissions of WBG projects in key sectors, and introduce a shadow carbon price to inform the economic analysis of its projects. The Bank also announced that it would develop a post-2020 set of climate goals, which it followed through on at COP24 in December 2018, with the launch of its 2025 climate targets. It also announced that – together with eight other MDBs – it would develop a framework to align its activities with the Paris Agreement. The Bank built on these commitments in June 2021 with the launch of its Climate Change Action Plan (CCAP) for 2021-25, announcing that it would align the financing flows of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), the Bank’s middle-income country lending arm, and the International Development Assoication (IDA), its low-income country arm, with the Paris Agreement by 1 July 2023. The CCAP also notes that World Bank support for new fossil gas projects, «will be assessed for consistency» with national climate commitments and development strategies, «and will aim to ensure they do not lead to long-term carbon lock-in.»

As part of wider civil society efforts to reform the Bank’s role as a major financier of fossil fuels projects and associated infrastructure, the Bretton Woods Project actively monitors the implementation of these commitments, in order to critically assess whether the Bank is working to enable the zero-carbon transition required to avert catastrophic climate change. The Project seeks to highlight relevant developments in its flagship quarterly publication, the Observer, as well as to allow its monitoring activities to inform the wider climate advocacy efforts undertaken by the Project and its partners. Additionally, BWP actively engages with the Bank’s sister organisation, the International Monetary Fund, as it seeks to mainstream climate change into its own mandate, including through deepening its collaboration on climate issues with the Bank.

Relevant publications related to the Project’s climate advocacy are listed below. For more information, please contact BWP Environment Project Manager Jon Sward at



World Bank’s plans for Indonesia: Delayed action on climate and continued coal and gas support, September 2021.

Low-carbon infrastructure, sustainable finance, and people-focused development: The role of multilateral development banks, July 2019.



New IMF climate strategy seeks to radically expand its climate work – amid concerns about its approach, Observer Autumn 2021.

World Bank’s new Climate Change Action Plan fails to deliver much-needed transformative agenda, Observer Summer 2021.

The World Bank’s investments in the Great Green Wall: A desert mirage?, Observer Spring 2021.

World Bank technical assistance and policy lending lead to Jamaica gas lock-in, Observer Spring 2021.

Eni files ICSID arbitration request linked to controversial Nigeria oil deal, Observer Winter 2020.

First gathering of world’s public development banks fails to deliver concrete commitments, Observer Winter 2020.

World Bank and IMF lend support to mega-gas project in Mozambique, undeterred by growing risks, Observer Autumn 2020.

CSOs raise concerns about conflict of interest related to World Bank technical assistance loan in Guyana, Observer Summer 2020.

World Bank must ensure new Africa energy strategy is inclusive and pro-poor, Observer Summer 2020.

Ghana’s Sankofa gas project – backed by World Bank – brings fiscal pain, Observer Spring 2020.

EIB rules out most fossil fuel funding from 2021, setting new benchmark for MDBs, Observer Winter 2019.

Links between Amazon deforestation and World Bank exposed, Observer Autumn 2019.

IFC’s Green Equity Strategy faces set-back at Board, Observer Summer 2019.

Despite new 2025 climate targets, World Bank’s Paris Agreement alignment remains work in progress, Observer Spring 2019.

As climate crisis bites, World Bank further distances itself from coal, Observer Winter 2018.

Carbon finance: The role of the World Bank in carbon trading market, Observer Autumn 2018.

Warming of Ethiopia-Eritrea relations puts proposed LAPSSET mega-project under microscope, Observer Autumn 2018.

World Bank DPL paves way for offshore drilling in Guyana, despite CSO concerns, Observer Summer 2018.

As World Bank signals end of extraction finance, CSOs call for end to its other fossil fuel funding, Observer Spring 2018.


Related resources

Open Letter to World Bank Group (WBG) President David Malpass and WBG leadership calling for the Bank to immediately adopt a whole-of-institution commitment to end all types of support for fossil fuels, March 2021.

Open letter to the World Bank Group Board of Executive Directors: WBG climate commitments & the appointment of the new World Bank Group president, March 2019.

Civil society wish-list for World Bank post-2020 climate goals, September 2018.