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Spring Meetings: Global South activists clamour World Bank gas reforms

Global activists and concerned citizens coordinated by the Big Shift Global campaign on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, transformed the entrance of the World Bank Group into a “danger” zone in a protest calling out the bank’s continued funding for planet-warming methane gas.

World Bank Meetings
Activists turned the entrance to the World Bank into a danger zone to draw attention to the threats posed by the World Bank’s funding for gas projects around the world, April 16, 2024, in Washington. Photo credit: Eric Kayne/AP Images for Glasgow Actions Team

Dozens of activists from Africa, Asia and Latin America called out the ongoing investments in gas, demanding the World Bank to end its gas investments in the global south and explaining why they don’t see it as a solution for their country. Global activists held 3-metre-high banners and wore masks to highlight the dangers of natural gas production.

The World Bank provided on average $1.2 billion a year in direct finance to fossil fuels between 2020 and 2020, of which two-thirds went to gas projects, according to research by Oil Change International.

Further, a briefing by Recourse points out the many ways that WBG continues to support gas expansion and demonstrates how this does little to improve domestic energy access, locks in fossil fuels, takes finance away from renewables and will lead to stranded assets.

The World bank meetings come after the hottest year on record, a year where at COP28 almost 200 countries recognised the need to phase out fossil fuels. Furthermore, even President Biden has begun to assess the role of gas, placing a pause on pending and future LNG projects until more investigation has been done on the impact of gas to energy, security and the environment.

The bank has a mandate for sustainable development and people in its client countries are some of those most affected by the impacts of climate change. Yet despite new president Banga’s statements against fossil fuel subsidies, the World Bank has so far reportedly failed to take a stand against fossil fuel funding.

Lorraine Chiponda, Don’t Gas Africa, said: “Gas is dangerous, it contributes to the destruction of our planet. It is not a transition fuel. Renewables are the solution. Most gas extracted from the Global South is burnt in the Global North, furthering energy colonialism. Analysis of Global Energy Monitor’s data on fossil gas infrastructure in Africa shows that 93% of currently operating LNG capacity on the continent is for export. Gas is bad economics, and different pathways should be supported. The World Bank should stop funding gas.”

Sophie Richmond, Global Lead at the Big Shift Campaign, said: “Gas is not the future or the answer to energy access. The World Bank continues to reiterate that gas is needed for development despite evidence showing gas is as dirty as coal. Gas investments are not ‘Paris-aligned’. The bank must end all direct and indirect finance for fossil fuels and shift it into sustainable, renewable energy. The Spring Meetings are the moment to show real commitment to the Paris Agreement and fossil fuel phase out.”

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