World Bank blamed for fueling climate chaos
Reflecting profound concerns of developing countries, a new report has strongly criticized The World Bank Group for promoting false solutions to climate change, such as carbon trading, mega-dams, agro-fuels and industrial monoculture tree plantations.
The report - Catalysing Catastrophic Climate Change - also gives vent to anxieties of social movements, environmental and social justice organizations, and affected communities. It was tabled at a side event by Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) during the UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn that concludes on Friday.
The German city is the seat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), currently led by Christiana Figueres, a national of Costa Rica.
With 195 Parties, the UNFCCC has near universal membership and is the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which has been ratified by 192 of the UNFCCC Parties. Under the Protocol, 37 States, consisting of highly industrialized countries and countries undergoing the process of transition to a market economy, have legally binding emission limitation and reduction commitments.
The ultimate objective of both treaties is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system.
The Bonn negotiations follow the slow progress made at earlier talks in Bangkok in April 2011, and are essential for building momentum toward the Durban climate conference in November 2011 in South Africa.
The Bangkok talks focused on setting the agenda for the negotiations for the rest of the year but proved to be a setback because of divisions between countries over the scope of talks. Some rich developed countries insisted on limiting the negotiations to implementing the narrow range of issues agreed at the Cancun Conference in December 2010. However, most countries supported continuing under an agreed work plan from 2007, the Bali Action Plan.
"Despite the need to urgently slash global emissions through a just transition away from fossil fuel use, the Bank's energy investment portfolio is locking developing countries, including South Africa and India, into a high-carbon future," says the FoEI report, listing exact figures.
The report shows that in 2010 the Bank hit a new record in terms of its fossil fuel funding, totaling USD6.6 billion, a 116 percent increase over 2009. USD4.4 billion of this total was invested in coal, also a record high, and a 356 percent increase over the previous year.
The World Bank's private lending arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), approved investment of USD450 million for the Tata Mundra 4,000-megawatt coal-fired power plant in Gujarat, India, which is expected to emit an estimated 25.7 million tons of CO2 annually for at least 25 years.
In April 2010, the World Bank also approved a massive USD3.75 billion loan, the overwhelming majority of which will finance the 4,800 megawatt Medupi coal-fired power plant being built by Eskom, South Africa's state-owned power utility. "The loan will lead to 40 new coal mines opening up to feed the Medupi plant and related projects. South Africa is currently responsible for 40 percent of all of Africa's greenhouse gas emissions, and this loan will add to these emissions," says the report.