World Bank to shift focus to climate change

WASHINGTON, The World Bank announced Thursday it is making a “fundamental shift” away from financing efforts to ease global poverty, towards tackling climate change.

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The group, which provides financial assistance to the developing world, said all future spending under its new Climate Change Action Plan would be respectful of the environment and specifically 28 percent of new investments will fund projects that fight climate change.

The Climate Change Action Plan spells out the organization’s actions to help nations deliver on their commitments to the Paris climate conference — or COP21– agreements from December 2015 and puts forth ambitious goals in renewable energy, climate-friendly agriculture, green transportation and urban resilience in the developing world for 2020.

“Following the Paris climate agreement, we must now take bold action to protect our planet for future generations,” said Jim Yong Kim, World Bank Group president. “We are moving urgently to help countries make major transitions to increase sources of renewable energy, decrease high-carbon energy sources, develop green transport systems and build sustainable, livable cities for growing urban populations. Developing countries want our help to implement their national climate plans, and we’ll do all we can to help them.”

John Roome, senior director for climate change at the World Bank, told reporters at a press conference: “This is a fundamental shift for the World Bank. We are putting climate change into our DNA. Climate change will drive 100 million more people into poverty in the next 15 years [unless action is taken].”

The group has been criticized in the past for investing in not-so-eco-friendly projects, like coal power stations, but said it would do so in the future based on how great the need was while a country transitioned from high-carbon fuels to clean energy.

“Climate change is the defining issue of our time and cannot be tackled through isolated actions, one sector at a time,” said Laura Tuck, Vice President for Sustainable Development at the World Bank Group. “The complexity of the challenge requires solutions that cut across many different sectors such as energy, water, agriculture, transport, urban planning, and disaster risk management. The World Bank is in a unique position to work with countries to develop the solutions that build their resilience to climate impacts, protect their people and environment, and reduce their emissions.”