World Bank: Lending Up For Coal and Large Hydro, Down For Renewables

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According to a report soon to be released by Oil Change International, the World Bank Group increased its lending for coal by an astonishing 256% in 2008. Lending for large hydropower projects increased from $751 million to $1,007 million. Support for renewable energy stagnated at a low level.

According to the new report, World Bank support for all fossil fuels combined amounted to $3,061 million in 2008. The Bank’s lending for energy efficiency increased sharply to $1.192 million. In comparison, support for new renewable energy technologies such as wind, solar, biomass and hydropower projects of less than 10 megawatts amounted to only $476 million.

This figure for new renewables includes projects which the Bank funded with resources from the Global Environment Facility and with carbon credits. If only the institution’s own resources are considered, the Bank spent a meager $280 million on new renewables in 2008. According to an independent analysis by the Bank Information Center, support for renewables was lower in 2008 than in 2007. (The World Bank’s financial year runs from July 1 to June 30.)

The World Bank would like to redefine itself as a major actor against climate change (and grab the large amounts of resources which governments are committing for this task). The institution clearly needs to do its own homework before it can become a credible agent against climate change.

The new report is being co-published by Oil Change International, the Institute for Policy Studies, Friends of the Earth, and the Campagna per la Riforma della Banca Mondiale.

Peter Bosshard is the policy director of International Rivers. His blog, Wet, Wild and Wonky, appears at