Skip to content

World Bank bombarded via social media: Stop funding fossil fuels!

Today, the World Bank’s facebook group and blog featured a pelthora of critical comments, the world of twitter saw a spike in ‘WB: free us from fossil fuels’ messages and World Bank (WB) offices in Croatia, France, Germany, Italy, South Africa, Spain and the UK were the targets of creative street actions.

You can follow the twitter feed from today’s day of action here

You can see pictures of the actions outside World Bank offices here  

Why target the World Bank?

While the evidence couldn’t be clearer that we need to transition off of fossil fuel dependency, the WB continues to heavily fund fossil fuel projects, especially large coal projects. The WB’s core energy sector portfolio has significantly increased lending for fossil fuels by 400 percent since 2006.

Since 2007 the WB Group has provided $6.6 billion for coal-based energy development. In fact, 2010 was a record year for coal lending at the WB – the most heavily polluting of all fossil fuels. What’s worse, according to Oil Change International’s independent analysis, despite the Bank’s pro-poor rhetoric, none of the Bank’s oil, gas or coal projects in 2009-2010 were funded specifically to provide energy access to the poor.

The latest illustration of the bank’s climate-damaging lending is the Eskom project in South Africa, to which the WB approved a $3.75 billion loan in April. Ironically located in the same country as the next major round of UN climate talks (Durban, December 2011), the primary purpose of the project is building the world’s fourth-largest coal-fired power plant, at Medupi, which will spew 25 million tons of the climate pollutant carbon dioxide each year. You can find out more about the Eskom project and the opposition it has generated in “The Bank Loan That Could Break South Africa’s Back” by Patrick Bond.

Meanwhile, the WB was invited to serve as the interim trustee of the Green Climate Fund under the Cancun agreement. This was the wrong choice. The Council of Canadians joins many organizations internationally that will continue to oppose the WB’s role in climate finance, demanding instead alternative mechanisms and public sources of funds for climate financing commitments. We will be monitoring and responding to the WB’s actions with the Green Climate Fund.

Alongside continuing to lend money towards fossil fuel projects, the WB’s internal governance is undemocratic and not representing the voices of the Global South, which suffer most of the impacts of climate change. Its policies and programs are part of the problem and cannot become today the needed solution. The WB has been a main institution used to enforce structural adjustment, privatization and deregulation.

$285.7 million of the Canadian government’s commitments to climate finacing for the Global South is  directed to the International Finance Corporation, a member of the WB group. This is truly disconcerting on a number of fronts. To name two; there is a real lack of transparency on how this funds are going to be used and clarity on how is ‘clean energy’ defined, does it include ‘clean coal’ (a myth)? Finally, as this day of action further proves, the WB is not a institution worthy of being trusted with meeting climate financing obligations.  As part of the World Bank Out of Climate Finance Campaign, the Council of Canadians will be monitoring and responding to this in the lead up to the Durban climate talks.

To read more about the WB and climate finance, I recommend: World Bank Corners Climate Funds?  by the Bretton Woods Project and visiting the World Bank out of Climate Finance campaign website.