The head of the World Bank accused of climate denial gave a new response

David Malpass was appointed three years ago by President Donald J. Trump appeared on the international stage when he was elected as the president of the World Bank. They are charged with improving the economies of poor countries, many of which are being hit by extreme weather due to climate change.

However, Mr Malpas spoke about global warming carefully not to rank Mr Trump, who has called climate change a “hoax” and pulled the US out of the Paris climate accord.

This week, Mr. Malpass’s refusal to admit that burning fossil fuels is rapidly warming the planet exposed the debate inside and outside the institution about whether the bank should help countries currently struggling with catastrophic floods, heatwaves, and droughts. and other impacts and whether funding for new oil and gas projects is exacerbating the problem.

According to Jochen Flasbarth, Germany’s top economist and one of the bank’s directors. Twitter “We are concerned about this confusing signal about the scientific evidence for #climate change from the top of the World Bank.”

The uproar began on Tuesday when Mr. Malpass refused to say at a New York Times public hearing that the burning of oil, gas and coal was causing climate change.

Speaking at a forum on climate finance, Mr Malpass called the World Bank president a “climate denier” for comments made earlier by former vice president Al Gore. Pressed three times, Mr Malpass refuses to admit that man-made emissions of greenhouse gases have created a worsening crisis and are leading to worse climate.

“I’m not a scientist,” he said.

The World Bank’s mission is to reduce poverty by lending money to poor countries to improve their economies and living standards. Credit terms are more favorable than those countries can find on the commercial market, often at low or no cost. Owned by 187 countries, the bank finances projects ranging from energy to education to public health.

Mr Malpas’ appearance on Tuesday caused an international outcry. As of Thursday and Sunday, he was working hard to walk back his views on climate change amid widespread calls for his dismissal.

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

“It’s clear that greenhouse gas emissions come from man-made sources, including fossil fuels,” he said. “I’m not recalcitrant.”

In addition, information obtained by the New York Times sent to World Bank staff on Thursday, in the article, “It is clear that greenhouse gas emissions from human activity are causing climate change and that the use of coal is increasing at an alarming rate.” In both advanced economies and developing countries, naphtha and heavy fuel oil are creating another wave of climate crisis.

Many experts say the World Bank, led by Mr. Malpas, is not doing enough to align lending with efforts to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and is moving too slowly to help poor countries cope with climate impacts. The World Bank continues to finance oil and gas projects, despite the International Energy Agency saying it must stop financing new fossil fuel developments if the world has any hope of averting climate change.

Mr. Malpass’ talk about the basic facts of climate science became the talk of the town in New York, where thousands of diplomats, policymakers and activists attended the UN General Assembly and a series of events known as Climate Week.

“The reason it comes down to this is because there’s a very real debate about how quickly and robustly all that capital that’s sitting in the bank can be deployed, given the state of the world,” said Rachel Kite, dean of the Fletcher School at Tufts University. He is participating in the United Nations climate talks this week. “This is an open wound, and anything from President Malpass would be disappointing.”

World Bank staff exchanged text messages expressing how Mr. Malpass had botched his initial response on Tuesday and expressed dismay at the bank’s downsizing of its work on climate initiatives, people familiar with the matter said.

Some have speculated that Mr Malpas will step down before his term ends in 2024. Although the United States is the World Bank’s largest shareholder and elects its leader, removing Mr Malpass before his term ends would require the support of the board. Rulers.

Cristina Figueres, a Costa Rican diplomat who helped negotiate the Paris climate accord as head of the UN climate agency, said Mr Malpas should go.

“It’s simple,” Ms. Figueres said. He said on Twitter. on Wednesday. “#You can’t lead the world’s top international development institution if you don’t understand the threat climate change poses to developing countries.”

Mark Carney, who heads the UN’s push for financial institutions to cut emissions, echoed Mr Malpass’s comments at an event on Wednesday – but in a different vein. “I’m not a scientist,” he said. But I took scientific advice.

Scott Morris, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, said the World Bank’s climate agenda was undeterred by Mr Malpas, but his speech indicated the need for a more ambitious approach.

“The best we can give him is that he doesn’t seem to be actively interfering with the way the bank has gone,” Mr Morris said, adding that pressure is mounting on the bank to do more to fight climate. turn into. “It is no longer enough to focus solely on the performance of one’s own institution.”

The fate of Mr. Malpass has been a matter of contention within the Biden administration, with some officials wanting President Biden to resign or try to get him out of office, while others do not want to start a new tradition that marks World Bank leaders. They are replaced when the US president changes hands.

“It’s a challenge for the Biden administration to say this is not our guy, we have to get rid of him,” Mr. Morris said. “There’s not much precedent for that.”

The Biden administration would not say whether it trusted Mr. Malpass on Wednesday, but emphasized that the agency should play a central role in fighting climate change.

Treasury spokesman Michael Kikukawa said: “The World Bank Group is a global leader in climate action and we look forward to mobilizing significant climate finance for developing countries.” “We have and will continue to make this hope clear to the leadership of the World Bank. The World Bank must be a full partner in delivering this global agenda.

Activists and climate experts have called for Mr Malpass to be removed.

“There is no place for climate denial at the top of the World Bank,” said Jules Kortenhorst, CEO of the Rocky Mountain Institute and an expert on energy and climate issues. “David Malpas must step down. The World Bank deserves a passionate leader who fully appreciates the threat climate change poses to reducing poverty, improving living standards and sustainable growth.”

All of that followed Mr. Gore’s comments on Tuesday morning, which set things off. “We need to get a new head of the World Bank,” Mr. Gore said at the New York Times event. According to the head of the World Bank, climate denial is ridiculous.

Mr. Malpass’s efforts on Thursday did little to placate his critics.

Luisa Abbott Galvao, senior global policy campaigner with Friends of the World, said: “At this point it’s clear that he’s trying to stay in his job after diplomatic warnings from the US Treasury and other stakeholders. “Malpass has been making climate denialist comments for over a decade. We cannot have a World Bank president saying good things in public but working behind the scenes to block his actions.”

Tasneem Essop, executive director of Climate Action Network International, continued to call for Mr Malpass to step down after his comments on CNN.

“If the World Bank’s mandate is to end poverty, the climate crisis is incompatible with funding fossil fuels, which are the main cause of harm to poor people,” she said. “His record does not indicate that he is taking the climate crisis seriously.

Mr. Malpass was an official at the Treasury during the Trump administration before taking over the World Bank. Although the year Despite his comments in 2007 stating that he does not believe there is a link between carbon emissions and global warming, he has not said anything publicly about climate change. His wife, Adele Malpass, is president of the Daily Caller News Foundation, a conservative media group that publishes articles and opinion pieces questioning climate science.

After President Biden took office, Mr. Malpass became more willing to discuss climate change publicly. On its website, the bank outlines its efforts to invest in renewable energy projects and make poor countries more resilient to extreme weather.

The Treasury Department oversees America’s relationship with the World Bank. Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen has repeatedly urged Mr. Malpass and other multilateral development bank officials to cut emissions, invest in adaptation and climate change mitigation, and align their work with the Paris Agreement.

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

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