World Bank challenged to fund the energy revolution and halt forest destruction

Press release - 13 April, 2007
Greenpeace International today accused the World Bank of hypocrisy and challenged the Bank at its spring meeting to put their money where its mouth is and stop funding projects that exacerbate climate change. Despite acknowledgment from the World Bank’s President, Paul Wolfowitz, that climate change is a serious issue, the Bank continues to fund fossil fuel projects and fails to prevent forest destruction - the very causes of the problem.

The World Bank's current spending on fossil fuels continues to dwarf its comparatively miniscule investments in sustainable renewable energy - a mere USD153 million in 2006 (1). In its recently published report, "Energy [R]evolution", Greenpeace proves that with proper investment (2) - equivalent to current fossil fuel subsidies of around USD 300 billion a year - renewable energy along with energy efficiency would deliver the 50% reduction of global emissions by 2050 needed to avert the potentially apocalyptic scenarios presented by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change last week (3).

Greenpeace also launched a new report 'Carving up the Congo' (4) on the logging sector in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) this week. The report calls for the Bank, the largest funder of the DRC Government, to urgently act to stop the expansion of the logging industry in the country, as logging is a key driver of deforestation, which causes climate change.

Wolfowitz recently stated that climate change needs action and pledged that the Bank would "climate-proof " its own projects. Wolfowitz also warned, that climate change will hit the poorest hardest, stating that "if you are living on the edge, climate change can push you over" (5).

Daniel Mittler, a Greenpeace International political advisor on the World Bank comments: "The World Bank talks the talk on climate change, but continues to fund fossil fuels that bind developing countries into a climate-damaging future - in effect, the World Bank is pushing poor people over the edge! If the Bank is serious about climate change, it must fund an energy revolution based on the massive expansion of renewable energies. The time for fossil fuel projects is over."

Greenpeace also stressed the importance of Congo forests in regulating the global climate. Filip Verbelen, Greenpeace International's Africa forest campaigner said: "Tropical forests are a first line of defence against climate change. Yet in the DRC, millions of hectares of rainforest are being sold off to the logging industry under the illusion that industrial logging will alleviate poverty. If the World Bank is serious about tackling climate change, it must act to contain the logging industry in DRC and to initiate large scale protection of the country's rainforests".

Greenpeace asked those Governments supporting the World Bank's energy portfolio not to provide any further funds until the Bank agrees to support an energy revolution. "Donor governments such as Britain and Germany claim to be leaders on climate change. If that is more than empty rhetoric, they must ensure that the Bank invests their taxpayers' money wisely - in renewable energies and energy efficiency, in the energy revolution we need to avoid dangerous climate change", Mittler concluded.

Other contacts: Daniel Mittler, Greenpeace International Political Advisor on climate/energy and international financial institutions, in Washington D.C., +49 171 876 5345 Filip Verbelen, Greenpeace International Africa Forest Campaigner, in Washington D.C., +32 496 161 586 Mhairi Dunlop, Greenpeace International Communications, +44 7801 212 960

Notes: (1) Renewables figures: http://siteresources.worldbank.org/EXTENERGY/Resources/336805-1157034157861/Improving_Lives_Low_Res.pdf, page 39 and Annex 2. Investments by the Bank (IBRD/IFC/IDA) in sustainable renewable energy was $ 153,1 million in 2006, which is just more than half of what the Bank invested in the peak year of 1994 ($ 270 million). In 2006, the World Bank also invested US$1,066m in extractive industry projects, including fossil fuels, see http://www.bicusa.org/proxy/Document.10072.aspx . (2) A table setting out the funding needs for renewables has been published on the occasion of the World Bank spring meeting, here: http://www.energyblueprint.info/447.0.html (3) http://www.ipcc.ch/SPM6avr07.pdf (4) See: http://www.greenpeace.org/congoreport (5) Wolfowitz interview with Reuters, March 13, http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L13136537.htm

Exp. contact date: 2007-04-23 00:00:00