US Official Tells Wind-Powered World Bank to Stop Funding Coal Power Plants

coal power plant photo

photo: Gustavo Madico via flickr.

There's all sorts of pot and kettle talk going on in this one. The Times of India reports that US Executive Director at the World Bank Group Whitney Debevoise has written a letter saying the World Bank and other multilateral development banks should stop funding building coal power plants in developing nations:

The Obama Administration believes that the Multilateral Development Banks have a potentially critical role to play in the future international framework for climate finance, and, in particular, to assist developing countries in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and strengthening their economies' resilience to climate risks.

That's the broad statement. The part which is being interpreted by Times of India and politically extrapolated upon by Cleantechnica as ending coal power plant funding-something which the Bank has not ruled out--are these few words where Debevoise says MDBs should "remove barriers to and build demand for no or low carbon resources."

Developing Nations' Low Carbon Growth Needs Assistance
This has drawn criticism from, according to the Times of India, a "well-placed source" in the Indian government, who has said the recommendations are "an unhealthy subservience of the decision-making processes in the Bank to the dictates of one member country."

I'm no great fan of some of the World Bank's activities, but frankly getting every nation off coal as quickly as possible, and helping fund low and no carbon resources in developing nations, particularly fast-growing ones like India, is crucial.

US Takes Harder No-Coal Line Overseas Than at Home
So here's the pot and kettle part that I find so funny: The US itself of course gets about half of its electricity from coal and the Obama Administration isn't taking nearly as hard a line against coal domestically--even though it undoubtedly should if it's serious about kickstarting its own low carbon economy... and as every nation should.

World Bank Group in Top 30 US Renewable Energy Purchasers
Then there's the fact that the World Bank Group (of which the World Bank is just one part) itself purchases renewable energy credits from wind power for all of its US electricity. In fact it's the 29th largest purchaser of renewable energy in the United States under the EPA's Green Power Partnership.

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