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World Bank says no to dirty coal projects

12 September 2013 | Clare Fussell

As a campaigner, it’s sometimes easy to get disheartened when all your planning, activity and noise don't yield immediate results. In this fast-paced world we hope for instant ‘wins’, and it can be a challenge to keep up the pressure when processes stall and issues go cold.

World Bank fossil fuel protest

Campaigners protest against World Bank loans to fund dirty coal projects

But it's worth reminding ourselves that some things simply take longer to bear fruit than others, and we should persist in keeping up the pressure for change.

I was reminded of this recently, when I heard that a campaign we started over two years ago has now finally had some progress. It was a long time coming...

World Bank climate campaign

In 2011 we started campaigning to get the World Bank to move away from funding dirty fossil fuel projects in developing countries and towards greater funding for the delivery of clean energy to the 1.3 billion people who have no electricity and the 2.7 billion people who still cook on open fires.

You might remember sending one of 22,000 postcards to Andrew Mitchell - the former International Development Secretary - asking him to put pressure on the World Bank to shift funding to low-carbon development for the world’s poorest countries.

In fact, DFID told us at the time that it was the biggest number of cards they had ever received for a campaign!

A worldwide campaign

We also worked closely with partners in India, South Africa, Peru and Bolivia to take this call to Europe and Washington. We were on a roll and making real progress - then everything came to a standstill.

There was an intractable political disagreement within the World Bank around which countries would stop receiving funding for dirty coal projects, and the whole process went silent.

Campaign success

Just last month (August 2013), our campaign finally celebrated success - a new World Bank announcement means that it will no longer provide any new funding for new coal-fired power stations in middle income countries.

This is a fantastic step, and will hopefully pave the way for other funders to follow.

The World Bank has also committed to work with the UN to promote the outcomes for ‘sustainable energy for all’.

This aims to achieve:

  • universal access to modern energy by 2030;

  • a doubling of renewable energy;

  • and a doubling of the rate of improvement of energy efficiency. 

This is an issue that thousands of you wrote to David Cameron about last year in the run up to the G20 summit. Your voices are being heard. Thank you!

Due to your efforts and the on-going work of our partners around the world, we have made some real progress towards universal access to safe, clean energy sources for everyone.

What next?

There are still big concerns around the rest of the World Bank finance for oil, gas and large-scale hydro power, and there’s still no guarantee that they will support the aim of keeping the world below 2C warming – above which we risk catastrophic global climate change.

We need to keep up the pressure on our leaders. Christian Aid will continue to campaign hard in the coming weeks, months and years to ensure that both governments and big donor organisations like the World Bank phase out dirty fossil fuels and promote clean energy for all, including for the world’s poorest communities.

Climate justice campaign >



About the author

Clare Groves

Clare Fussell is a campaigns officer for Christian Aid

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