World Bank takes on climate change

The World Bank has unveiled a new climate action that will see it spend 28 per cent of its investments on climate change projects in developing countries to help them achieve their national climate plans agreed upon at the UN climate talks in Paris last December.

The World Bank’s Climate Change Action plan was released yesterday, just two weeks before world leaders are to officially sign the Paris Agreement in New York.

“Following the Paris climate agreement, we must now take bold action to protect our planet for future generations,” says World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. “We are moving urgently to help countries make major transitions to increase sources of renewable energy, decrease high-carbon energy sources, develop green transport systems, and build sustainable, liveable cities for growing urban populations.”

The plan outlines a number of targets to accelerate efforts to tackle climate change by 2020. They include helping developing countries add 30 gigawatts of renewable energy – enough to power 150 million homes – to the world’s energy capacity, bringing early warning systems to 100 million people and developing climate-smart agriculture plans for at least 40 countries, according to a World Bank press release.

To achieve these goals, the World Bank intends to mobilise USD 25 billion in commercial financing for clean energy by 2020. The Action Plan also lays out plans to quadruple funding over the next five years to make transport systems more resilient to climate change. At least USD 1 billion will go towards promoting energy efficiency and resilient building by 2020. Investments are also earmarked for developing climate smart agriculture plans for at least 40 countries, sustainable forest strategies for 50 countries and climate-informed fisheries management — all by 2020.

As Johne Roome, senior director for climate change at the World Bank explains, the plan aims to protect poor people and poor countries from the threat posed by climate change to efforts to end poverty.

“If we don’t act, climate change threatens to drive 100 million more people into poverty in the next 15 years,” says Roome.

To this end, the World Bank will invest in bringing early warning systems to 100 million people across 15 developing countries. It will also pilot a new approach in 15 cities to boost urban resilience by integrating infrastructure, land use planning and disaster risk management.

The World Bank has faced strong criticism in the past for supporting coal-fired power stations, reports the Guardian. And while it has already moved away from such investments, Roome refused to rule out fossil fuel investments in the future. Instead, he said they would be subject to strict criteria such as necessity. “Gas could provide a ‘transition’ away from high-carbon fuels for countries struggling to build new renewable energy capacity,” according to the article.


Image credit: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe, flickr/Creative Commons

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