EU officials urge World Bank to exclude investments in fossil fuels

WASHINGTON: Senior EU officials urged World Bank management to expand its climate change strategy to exclude investments in oil and coal projects globally, and phase out investment in projects of natural gas, according to three sources close to matter.

In the six-page letter dated Wednesday, World Bank executive directors representing major European shareholder countries and Canada praised the steps taken by the Bank to ensure that its loans support efforts to reduce carbon emissions. carbon.

But they urged the Bank – the developing world’s largest provider of climate finance – to go even further.

“We … believe that the Bank should now go further and also exclude all investments related to coal and oil, and further define a policy aimed at phasing out gas-fired electricity generation to invest in gas. only in exceptional circumstances, “European officials wrote in the letter, excerpts of which were seen by Reuters.

Officials took note of the World Bank’s $ 620 million investment in a multibillion-dollar liquefied natural gas project in Mozambique approved by the Bank’s board in January, but did not called for its cancellation, said one of the sources.

The World Bank has confirmed receipt of the letter but has not disclosed all of its contents. He noted that the World Bank and its sister organizations have provided $ 83 billion for climate action over the past five years.

“Many of the initiatives requested in the letter from our shareholders are already planned or under discussion for our draft climate change action plan for 2021-2025, which management is working to finalize in the coming month”, the bank told Reuters in an email. declaration.

The Bank’s first climate action plan began in fiscal 2016.

The United States, the largest shareholder in the World Bank, this month joined the 2015 Paris climate agreement and pledged to shift multilateral institutions and US public lending institutions into “investments.” climate aligned and away from high carbon investments ”.

World Bank President David Malpass told finance officials of the Group of 20 economies on Friday that the Bank would make record investments in climate change mitigation and adaptation for a second consecutive year in 2021.

“Inequality, poverty and climate change will be the defining issues of our time,” Malpass told officials. “It’s time to think big and act big to find solutions”,

He said he was also launching new analyzes to mainstream climate into all of his national diagnostics and strategies, a step initiated before the letter from EU officials, one of the sources said.

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