By Emeka Nwokocha

In commemoration of 2022-World Habitat Day, a coalition of civil society organisations promoting climate justice, Glasgow Action Team, has charged World Bank to reform its climate policy and stop using public money to bankroll dirty polluters, adding that the Bank’s failure to tackle climate change frontally makes it come short and fail to deliver to low-income countries.

Glasgow Action Team gave the charge on Tuesday 4, October, 2022, during a press conference via zoom to mark this year’s World Habitat Day that seeks to draw attention to the growing inequalities and vulnerabilities that have been exacerbated by the triple ‘C’ crises — COVID-19, Climate and Conflict.
The team noted that “the Bank’s failure to tackle climate change is the latest challenge where the Bank has come short and failed to deliver for low-income countries.”

The team frowned at the Bank’s policy that supports continuous funding of fossil fuels projects, saying, “since the Paris Agreement, the World Bank has provided $12 billion in direct project finance to fossil fuels projects in 35 countries, more than any other multilateral development bank,” adding that, “the figure does not include billions more in support of fossil fuels through financial intermediaries, with the biggest culprit being the commercial lending arm of the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation (IFC).”

Continuing, the team noted that “the propagated false narrative that fossil fuels will bring prosperity is a harmful distraction from the actual demands of Global South citizens, especially Africans, who want clean, community-owned energy.”

It further noted, “also harmful is the Net Zero lie that Big Polluters use to continue polluting the environment while promising unrealistic tree planting schemes that could only lead to land grabs.”

The team expressed worries that World Bank is operating with impunity, as the vast proportion of the Bank’s lending and other programme portfolios remain immune from legal action, as does the IMF.

Continuing, the team carpeted the managers of World Bank for driving climate change through investments in fossil fuels on one hand, while on the other hand, trying to fix the problems caused by climate change, such as investing $10 million into reversing degradation of Lake Chad.

Describing the Nigerian situation as a current major concern, the Glasgow team said, “the Bank has announced funding for Carbon Capture and Storage, a controversial and unproven technology that claims to store carbon underground, to ‘help Nigeria reach its emissions targets’, despite criticisms that this techno-fix reinforces fossil fuel dependence.”

The team further noted that President Muhammadu Buhari, in his speech at the last UN Climate talks announced that Nigeria would become net zero by 2060, saying “the government is looking for partners, technology, and finance to make cleaner and efficient use of all available resources for a more stable transition in energy markets,” adding that, “it’s crucial that the technologies are scientifically proven, given the number of false solutions that are promoted by green washing lobbyists and financiers.”

Worried about the development, the Glasgow team noted that Nigeria, as a major oil producer, wants to prolong the status quo as much as possible, stating that last year, the vice president wrote an article denouncing growing calls for fossil fuel divestment.

Being aware that Nigeria’s climate policy heavily relies on so-called ‘carbon sinks’, the team says that the country plans to keep burning fossil fuels, but supposedly remove the emissions after they’ve been produced (presumably through Carbon Capture and Storage and other unrealistic solutions, like planting trees).

The Glasgow team further explained that the risk of carbon capture and storage is that it provides a pretext to continue burning fossil fuels instead of switching to clean energy, saying, “the science is clear that we need to rapidly transition away from fossil fuels if we want to achieve a safe climate for all. Obviously, the fossil fuel industry doesn’t want to do that—so they tell us to give them money for carbon capture instead. Carbon capture is a totally unproven solution.”

“The science is clear: The world is on a countdown to climate catastrophe if it does not cut carbon emissions. It’s now or never. The World Bank is a major investor of public money into energy projects and sets the norms for other multilateral lenders and crowds in private finance, so it is essential that those running the World Bank acknowledge the real-world impacts of its funding,” they stated.
The team frowned at the modalities for appointing the President of the World Bank, saying, “the appointment of President of the World Bank is always made undemocratically and illegitimately via a ‘Gentleman’s Agreement between the US and Europe,” adding that, “it’s time to update both the job description and selection process to guarantee leadership that is fit or purpose.”

Continuing, the team recommended the following in order to make the World Bank live up to its mandates:

“Stop using public money to bankroll dirty polluters. Sign the Glasgow Clean Energy statement before the next COP and leave fossil fuels in the ground. Close loopholes through wish private lenders and asset managers continue extracting and exploiting fossil fuels.

“Align all policies, programmes, and projects into a 1.5-degree roadmap with due priority for poverty alleviation; prioritize investment in Global South renewable energy projects, with civil society input, toward publicly owned and democratically controlled systems that serve the common good instead of private profit.
“Stop hoarding reserves and mobilize $1 trillion in new and genuinely green finance.

“Move away from an extractive model of financing towards delivering a just transition, through investments which benefit people on the poverty line instead of the 1%.; evaluate impact through the lens of sustainability, equity, and justice and actively champion an independent body to restructure sovereign debt.

“Raise ambitions so that half of all World Bank financing is on climate adaptation and mitigation, giving the scale and urgency of the crisis; candidates for World Bank leadership should be accountable and committed to scientific evidence.”


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