Climate change organisations under the Big Shift Coalition have called on the World Bank to fire its President David Malpass. In a panel discussion during a New York Times event on Tuesday, September 21, 2022, Malpass allegedly refused to back climate science and was labelled a “climate denier” by former US Vice President, Al Gore.
Malpass was asked three times to state whether he believed man-made fossil fuel emissions contributed to climate change and after trying to evade the questions multiple times, ultimately answered with: “I am not a scientist”.
Last year, over 70 groups from around the world sent a letter to World Bank Governors and Executive Directors calling on David Malpass to be fired over his failure on climate action. A staffer at the World Bank wrote in a scathing opinion piece that Malpass “has neither the vision nor credibility to make the World Bank a climate leader”.
The climate adviser to the UN Secretary General singled out the World Bank for “underperforming on climate”. Al Gore said in an interview to the Financial Times that the WB is “missing in action” and “needs new climate leadership”. According to insider reports reviewed by the Financial Times, Malpass played a direct role in blocking the ambition of the joint MDB announcement on climate finance at COP26.
Member groups of the Big Shift Coalition, which work on issues of climate finance related to the World Bank, IMF and multilateral banks, have been commenting on the development.
Luisa Galvao of Friends of the Earth US said: “The World Bank cannot be led by a climate denier and President Biden should call on the Bank’s Board to fire him immediately. The ancient agreement where the United States nominates Bank Presidents also needs to end. We need democratic and globally equitable governance.”
Bhekumuzi Bhebhe of PowerShift Africa: “The investments by the World Bank in Africa continue to fuel the impacts of the climate crisis experienced by communities across the continent. There is no time for climate denialism. The World Bank must act now to end all fossil fuel finance and invest in sustainable, renewable energy for all. It is critical Africa attracts increased investments to leapfrog dirty energy and become a green leader and not just a victim of the climate emergency.”
Fran Witt of Recourse: “Our partners around the world are suffering the catastrophic results of climate change”. Scientists agree that climate change has been caused by the unfettered burning of fossil fuels, and it is universally agreed that climate action means dramatically cutting carbon emissions. But the World Bank Group cannot align its portfolio with the Paris Agreement goal of keeping global warming below 1.5C with a climate change denier at its helm! Malpass must go!”
Sonia Dunlop, Programme Lead on MDBs and Public Banks and climate change think tank E3G: “This is a step too far. It is time for the White House and governments all over the world to think hard as to who they want at the helm of the World Bank. The World Bank is critical to the global fight against climate change. You don’t need to be a scientist to understand climate science. The facts are clear, and there’s no alternative but to act.”
Tasneem Essop, Executive Director, Climate Action Network: “A self-pronounced climate denier at the helm of the World Bank at this stage of the climate emergency is inexcusable! The World Bank continues to use public money to finance fossil fuel projects in Global South countries where people are already suffering the worst impacts of climate change. For the World Bank to maintain any shred of decency Malpass cannot remain as President.”
Heike Mainhardt, Senior Advisor with Urgewald: “Given Malpass’ climate crisis denial stance, it is no wonder the World Bank provides more finance, tax breaks, and higher tariffs to benefit fossil fuels than any other public development bank. We stand with UN leadership and call on the World Bank’s shareholders to step in – to stop the World Bank’s public funding of fossil fuels.”
Elaine Zuckerman, Gender Action: “While civil society pressured the World Bank to acknowledge climate change’s harmful impacts on all humanity including its non-uniform gender, geographical and class differences, eliminate direct but not indirect fossil-fuel financing and fund some renewable energy projects, Malpass’s persistent denial that climate change is manmade undermines saving our planet from climate destruction.”
David Ryfisch, Team Leader for International Climate Policy at Germanwatch: We urgently need more climate action by the World Bank. This can only happen if the leadership is on board. This is clearly not the case. There is no time to convince president Malpass of climate science, if he hasn’t understood it by now. Shareholders – including Germany – have to make it clear that denying man-made climate change is unacceptable for the president of the World Bank.
Bronwen Tucker of Oil Change International: “The World Bank Group still funds more fossil fuels than any other MDB, and they continue to lock Global South countries into expensive and volatile fossil fuel contracts through their heavy-handed policy lending programmes. Now we know why. With Malpass at the top, the World Bank Group cannot be trusted as a partner in sustainable development.”