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World Bank coal funding hits record high as it seeks climate finance control

World Bank funding for coal power stations has soared 40-fold over the last five years to hit a record high of $4.4 billion in 2010, new figures reveal.

Bank lending to coal-fuelled power projects significantly exceeds its financing of new renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, which stood at $3,128 billion in 2009 (the latest figure available).

‘This new analysis reveals incoherence at the heart of the World Bank’s thinking about energy,’ said Dr Alison Doig, Christian Aid’s Senior Adviser on Climate Change. ‘At the same time as it is seeking to gain control of the billions which will be channelled to developing countries to help them cope with global warming, the Bank is still lending staggeringly large and growing sums to finance coal-fired power.

‘Yet we know that coal is the dirtiest of all the fossil fuels – the one which most exacerbates the climate crisis which is having devastating effects on the lives of people living in poverty. We also know that by financing the building of coal power stations, the Bank is locking countries in to coal use for the next 40 to 50 years.’

The new figures were produced by the Washington-based Bank Information Centre (BIC) - an independent, non-profit making organisation which seeks to improve the transparency and accountability of the World Bank.

The BIC analysis also reveals that during the current financial year, the World Bank Group provided more than £1 billion for oil and gas exploration and production, including two offshore oil drilling operations which received a total of $729 million.

Dr Doig continued: ‘If the World Bank is going to use its considerable resources to invest in energy, then it must prioritise energy access for poor people, as well as low-carbon development. Its record of funding vast, dirty coal projects such as the Eskom power station in South Africa suggests that it ignores these criteria.

‘Given its lending record, it would be deeply worrying for the Bank to be put in charge of the billions that rich countries have promised to help developing countries adapt to climate change and to grow in ways which do not greatly exacerbate the problem.

‘Christian Aid hopes that the Bank’s new energy strategy, which it is currently preparing and which will guide its lending for the next decade, will fundamentally change its approach.’

The new figures from the Bank Information Centre are based on an analysis of records published by the World Bank and International Finance Corporation.


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For more information and to arrange interviews, contact Rachel Baird at Christian Aid on 0207 523 2446 or rbaird@christian-aid.org or Rebecca Harris at the Bank Information Centre on 001 202 624 0632 or rharris@bicusa.org

Notes to Editors:

1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in nearly 50 countries. We act where the need is greatest, regardless of religion, helping people build the lives they deserve.

2. Christian Aid has a vision, an end to global poverty, and we believe that vision can become a reality. Our report, Poverty Over, explains what we believe needs to be done – and can be done – to end poverty.  Details at http://www.christianaid.org.uk/Images/poverty-over-report.pdf

3.  Christian Aid is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of 100 churches and church-related organisations that work together inhumanitarian assistance and development.  Further details at http://www.actalliance.org

4. Follow Christian Aid's newswire on Twitter: http://twitter.com/caid_newswire

5. For more information about the work of Christian Aid visit www.christianaid.org.uk