The World Bank’s Climate Hypocrisy

<a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/cat.mhtml?lang=en&search_source=search_form&version=llv1&anyorall=all&safesearch=1&searchterm=coal+plant&search_group=&orient=&search_cat=&searchtermx=&photographer_name=&people_gender=&people_age=&people_ethnicity=&people_number=&commercial_ok=&color=&show_color_wheel=1#id=101294830&src=22f4f307601880a6228eef81b9a0d8e0-1-4">hans engbers</a>


It’s enough to give you whiplash. Last month, the World Bank put out a devastating new report on why 4 degrees Celsius of global warming “simply must not be allowed to occur.” This month, the Bank is considering whether to provide financing for a new coal-fired power plant in Mongolia.

The World Bank Group’s private funding arm, International Finance Corporation, is considering support for the Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine project in the South Gobi Desert, a project that also includes a 750 megawatt coal plant. Mining giant Rio Tinto is behind the venture, which is expected to cost $13.2 billion. The power plant would be used to run the mining and processing operations at what has been billed as the “world’s biggest new source of copper.” As NPR has reported, mining is booming in Mongolia. This plant would only intensify that trend.

The Sierra Club, Mongolia-based Oyu Tolgoi Watch, the Bank Information Center, and several other groups blasted the bank in a release on Thursday, arguing that it needs to conduct a more thorough assessment of impacts and alternatives. They argue that the bank should delay consideration until that is completed.

The groups argue that, if this funding is approved, the World Bank would be violating its own criteria for screening coal projects with regard to their climate impacts. It would also violate IFC’s performance standards on environmental and social sustainability, they argue.

While the groups cite concerns about access to water supplies and local nomadic herders, the climate concern is probably the biggest. The environmental impact assessment conducted for the coal plant doesn’t seem to include any figures on how much carbon dioxide it would emit annually.

The World Bank has been criticized before for continuing to fund coal plants. The World Resources Institute issued a report a few weeks ago about coal plants that are currently proposed or under construction, and it notes that the World Bank “has actually increased lending for fossil fuel projects and coal plants in recent years.” That includes $5.3 billion in funding for 29 new or expanding coal plants, as reporter Dave Levitan pointed out. And just last year, the bank’s own internal inspector criticized it for not adequately evaluating carbon emissions before granting a $3.75 billion loan for a coal plant in South Africa.

I asked World Bank and IFC for comment on Oyu Tolgoi, but a spokesperson IFC said it would not be able to respond by press time. I’ll update when and if they do.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.