World Bank will no longer finance oil, gas projects from 2019 as pressure builds to switch to clean energy
The move, it said, was meant to help countries meet the greenhouse gas-curbing pledges they had made in support of the 2015 Paris Agreement
The World Bank will stop financing oil and gas exploration and extraction from 2019, it announced on Tuesday at a climate summit seeking to boost the global economy’s shift to clean energy.
“The World Bank Group will no longer finance upstream oil and gas, after 2019,” it said in a statement in Paris, where world leaders sought to unlock more money for the shift away from Earth-warming fossil fuels.
The move, it said, was meant to help countries meet the greenhouse gas-curbing pledges they had made in support of the 2015 Paris Agreement to limit global warming.
“In exceptional circumstances, consideration will be given to financing upstream gas in the poorest countries where there is a clear benefit in terms of energy access for the poor and the project fits within the countries’ Paris Agreement commitments,” the statement said.
The bank also announced it was “on track to meet its target of 28 per cent of its lending going to climate action by 2020”.
The World Bank’s mandate is to provide finance and other assistance to aid the economic advancement of developing countries.
It co-sponsored the one-day summit called by French President Emmanuel Macron to find ways to unlock the money needed for the global economy’s costly shift away from fossil fuels to less-polluting energy sources, and to shore up countries’ defences against climate change-induced weather disasters.
Trillions of dollars must be invested in clean energy technology to meet the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting average global warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-Industrial Revolution levels, experts say.
A lack of money has long been a constraint to the global effort to limit global warming, worsened by US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw America from the Paris Agreement and slash funding for climate projects.
In its 2016 annual report, the World Bank Group said it had invested just over US$3 billion in “extractive industries”, which also include mining, in 2016 – three times as much as the year before.
Meanwhile, former US secretary of state John Kerry blasted the absence of the American government at the summit as a “disgrace”.
Trump was not invited and the US federal government was represented by the second-highest diplomat in the American embassy in Paris, Brent Hardt, two years to the day since Kerry and then-president Barack Obama helped lead painstaking diplomatic efforts to clinch the Paris accord.
“It’s very disappointing, it’s worse than disappointing, it’s actually a disgrace when you consider the facts, the science, the common sense, all the work that’s been done,” Kerry said on the summit sidelines.
“[The Paris Agreement took] 26 years of work that’s being dishonoured by people who don’t even understand the science.”
American summit participants included the campaigning governor of California, Jerry Brown, as well as former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg who has put together a coalition of cities, companies and activists called “America’s Pledge” to help reduce US emissions.