Developing countries want coal, but the World Bank doesn’t.
The World Bank will not complete a controversial plan to restrict loans for coal plants before the U.N. climate change summit in Durban, South Africa, officials acknowledged yesterday.
The “Energy Sector Strategy of the World Bank,” a sweeping blueprint that outlines the World Bank’s plans to bring power to 1.4 billion people, has been deadlocked since April. At issue is a provision preventing middle-income countries from accessing loans to build new coal plants. China, India, Brazil and other developing countries strongly object to the coal limits and have shelved the energy strategy indefinitely.
World Bank Climate Change Envoy Andrew Steer yesterday downplayed the importance of completing the strategy before international climate negotiations begin in Durban on Nov. 28.
“I don’t regard the fact that the energy strategy is still in draft as terribly important with regard to Durban,” Steer said. “What does matter is that an institution like the World Bank is very active in shifting the mix, and this year we will be financing about $5 billion for renewable energy across a whole range of countries, so I think that’s where the real message is.
“The fact that from time to time in countries that have an urgent need for energy access, clients may request some support for highly-efficient coal-powered generation, I don’t see that as particularly relevant to the Durban story,” Steer said.
Environmental activists disagree. Failing to articulate a clear strategy about how the World Bank will move away from dirty fossil fuels, many said, sends a muddled message — especially at a time when the bank is trying to maintain its role as manager of billions of dollars for climate change through the Green Climate Fund.
Anyone who has the notion that we’re going to move away from fossil fuels just isn’t paying attention.