World Bank Leader, Accused of Climate Denial, Gives New Response

World Bank President David Malpass on Thursday tried to restate his stance on climate change amid calls for his dismissal after he refused to admit that burning fuel Fossils are warming the planet rapidly.

In an interview on CNN International on Thursday morning, Malpass said he accepts the overwhelming scientific conclusion that human activity is warming the planet.

“It is clear that greenhouse gas emissions come from man-made sources, including fossil fuels,” he said. “I’m not the one in denial.”

That was much different from Tuesday, when he refused to admit during a public event at The New York Times whether burning oil, gas and coal would dangerously heat the Earth. .

Speaking on stage During a discussion on climate finance, Mr Malpass was asked to respond to a comment made earlier in the day by former Vice President Al Gore, who called the World Bank president a “negative person”. get climate”. Pressed three times, Mr Malpass would not say whether he would accept that man-made emissions of greenhouse gases have created a worsening crisis leading to more extreme weather.

“I am not a scientist,” he said.

Malpass’s interpretation of the basics of climate science quickly became a hot topic in New York, where thousands of diplomats, policymakers and activists gathered for the Congress. United Nations council and a series of events known as Climate Week.

Many experts say the World Bank under Mr. Malpass has not done enough to align its lending with international efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and is moving too slowly to help poor countries cope. cope with sea level rise, drought and other extreme weather caused by planetary warming. The bank continues to finance oil and gas projects, despite the International Energy Agency’s statement that countries must stop funding new fossil fuel development if the world has any hope of averting the disaster. climate disaster.

Rachel Kyte, dean of the Fletcher School at Tufts University, said: “This happened because there was a very real debate about how quickly all the capital that was in the bank could be deployed. more quickly and decisively in the current world situation”. participated in climate discussions at the United Nations this week. “This is an open wound, and anything from President Malpass is disappointing.”

World Bank staffers exchanged text messages complaining about the way Mr Malpass had reacted to his initial response on Tuesday and expressing disappointment that he had undercut the bank’s work on issues climate initiative, according to people familiar with the matter.

There is some speculation about whether Mr. Malpass will leave before his term expires in 2024. He nominated to lead the World Bank in 2019 by President Donald J. Trump. While the United States traditionally chooses the leader of the World Bank and is its largest shareholder, removing Mr Malpass before the end of his term would require the backing of the board of governors.

One of those governors, Jochen Flasbarth, a senior economic official in Germany, reacted to Mr. Malpass’s performance on Tuesday with alarm. Twitter “We are concerned about these confusing signals about the scientific evidence of #climatechange from the top of @WorldBank.”

The reaction from many others was even more acute.

“It’s that simple,” says Christiana Figueres, who helped negotiate the Paris climate accord as head of the United Nations climate agency. say on Twitter on Wednesday. “If you don’t understand the threat #climatechange poses to developing countries, you cannot lead the world’s leading international development organization.”

Speaking at an event on Wednesday, Mark Carney, who is leading a United Nations effort to call on financial institutions to help reduce emissions, echoed Mr Malpass’s comments – but with a twist. distinctive. “I am not a scientist,” he said. “But I took scientific advice.”

The Biden administration would not say on Wednesday whether it had confidence in Mr Malpass but stressed that the institution must play a central role in fighting climate change.

“We expect the World Bank Group to be a global leader in climate ambition and to mobilize significantly more climate finance for developing countries,” said Michael Kikukawa, ministry spokesman. Finance, said. “We have – and will continue to – make that expectation clear to the World Bank leadership. The World Bank must be a full partner in the implementation of this global agenda”.

Activists and climate experts call for Mr Malpass’s removal.

“There is no place at the top of the World Bank for climate advocates,” said Jules Kortenhorst, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Institute and an expert on climate and energy issues. “David Malpass needs to resign. The World Bank deserves a passionate leader who fully appreciates the threat that climate change poses to poverty reduction, improved living standards and sustainable growth.”

All of that according to Mr. Gore’s remarks on Tuesday morning, set events in motion. “We need a new head of the World Bank,” Mr. Gore said at the New York Times event. “It is ridiculous to have a climate denier as head of the World Bank.”

Malpass’s comments on CNN did little to help his critics.

“At this point, it is clear that he is trying to continue his work following the diplomatic warning from the U.S. Treasury Department and other shareholders yesterday,” said Luísa Abbott Galvão, campaigner Friends of the Earth senior international policy. “Malpass has been making climate denial comments for over a decade. We can’t have a situation where a World Bank president says nice things publicly but works behind the scenes to stop action, and that’s exactly what we’ve seen for three years. as his World Bank president”.

Tasneem Essop, founding director of the Energy Democracy Initiative in South Africa, also continued to call for Mr Malpass’s removal following his comments on CNN.

“If the World Bank’s mission is to end poverty, it is inconsistent with continued financing of fossil fuels that have been a key driver of the climate crisis affecting those living in poverty,” she said. live in the poorest conditions”. “His record doesn’t show that he’s taking the climate crisis seriously.”

While Mr. Trump was president, Mr. Malpass was on the right track, carefully taking steps to fulfill the bank’s environmental obligations without putting his former boss in a stalemate. Mr Trump famously called climate change “a hoax”, pulled the US out of the Paris climate agreement and promoted fossil fuels.

After President Biden took office, Mr. Malpass be more ready public discussion of climate change. On its website, the bank details its efforts invest in renewable energy projects and fund efforts to make poor countries more resilient to extreme weather.

The Treasury Department oversees the United States’ relationship with the World Bank. Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen has repeatedly urged Mr. Malpass, and the heads of other multilateral development banks, to do more to help countries cut emissions, invest in adaptation and climate resilience and align their practices with the Paris Agreement.

Mr Malpass is scheduled to host a town hall for World Bank staff next week, ahead of the October annual meetings in Washington.

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