World Bank and Climate Change

A Aug 12th, 2007 Los Angeles Times article by Judy Pasternak and published on the Common Dreams website, “At World Bank, Climate Change isn’t Part of the Equation” leaves me concerned. J. Pasternak’s main claim runs as follows: “At the World Bank – heavily influenced by its largest shareholder, the United States – the effect of projects on climate change is not even calculated.” The reason for that is given by Kristalina Georgieva, the bank’s strategy and operations director for sustainable development: “Our biggest obstacle has been that politically, [climate change] is very controversial”.

I am not surprised by this state of affairs. The US government – with its emphasis on issues of “energy” and on “technical” solutions – reflects a point of view that is not uncommon: it is an approach that many people will feel secure with (we have a grip on “energy” and “technology”), and it is also an approach that fits in well to defend the economic and financial interests of some great enterprises. Moreover, it provides us (the rich) with an excuse not to change our excessive and unsustainable lifestyles and to continue to present them as a criterion and ideal for the poor and for those countries that are rapidly developing by modeling their growth on the western way of life. This state of affairs, in my opinion, avoids precisely the political debate and issues – politics have been reduced to a mere means of pressure … in my book, and I am sure that Ricardo Petrella would follow me in this, this represents a perversion of what politics is.

I am sure that within the World Bank there are forces that attempt to change the situation – K. Georgieva’s statement is a proof of that. The World Bank has websites on environmental issues and on climate change. What can we do to encourage the World Bank to take on its responsibility and to develop these websites as leading opinion makers?

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