World Bank to Coal: ‘I Just Can’t Quit You!’

As the World Bank Group positions itself to play a central role in delivering climate finance, the incoherence in its lending practices scream out for attention.
Despite increasing its renewable energy lending, the institution spent more on coal in 2010 than renewable energy and energy efficiency combined. The Bank’s continued commitment to coal – the most energy intensive and destructive fuel source on the planet – is a black mark on its record that no amount of rosy public relations spin can scrub off.   
If the World Bank believes it can credibly deliver climate finance,  it must make a strong and credible commitment to clean up its act. And now it has the perfect opportunity to demonstrate that by revising its Energy Strategy to phase out fossil fuels, ensure energy access for the poor, and guarantee that all large scale hydropower lending meets stringent requirements.
A strong strategy guiding its energy investments for years to come will send an important signal that the Bank is serious about delivering on its commitment to climate finance.
Without a strong energy strategy however, it is clear that the Bank should not serve even a trustee role in future climate finance. Beneath its glossy brochures and hearty speeches, a large portion of its energy sector lending is going to destructive coal projects. The world is changing rapidly and the Bank is not keeping up. If it genuinely wants to help build the 21st century clean energy economy, it must heal the wounds it has inflicted in the past.
And the World Bank can make the strongest statement of all by quitting coal for good.

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