lunes, abril 14, 2008

The World Bank's Carbon Deals

Janet Redman | April 10, 2008

Editor: Emily Schwartz Greco

Foreign Policy In Focus

It was the first day in a long week of the consultations, PowerPoint presentations and high-level cocktail parties that accompany the World Bank’s Spring Meetings in Washington, D.C. Already tensions were running high in a tightly-packed conference room downtown. Bank staff huddled on one side and non-profit groups on the other. The topic that drew so much attention first thing Monday morning: Climate change and the Bank’s plans for plunging its fingers deeper into the expanding multi-billion-dollar carbon-trading pie.

At issue was a slate of new Bank-managed climate funds aimed at transitioning to a “low carbon” economy. Two of the proposed funds would “scale up” the carbon offset ventures that already make up a more than $2 billion carbon finance portfolio at the Bank.

Also under scrutiny: The World Bank’s dealing from both ends of the climate change deck. Between 2005 and 2007 the Bank financed greenhouse gas-emitting fossil fuel projects (coal, oil and gas) to the tune of $1.5 billion. At the same time the Bank acts as trustee to 10 greenhouse gas-reducing trust funds, pocketing an average 13% “overhead” in the process. That puts the Bank’s slice of the pie at just about $260 million – half of the money expected to accrue by 2012 in the under-resourced United Nations Adaptation Fund, outlined during the recent international climate talks in Bali, to help developing countries cope with the unavoidable impacts of global climate shifts.

A close look at the Bank’s current carbon trading deals, which “outsource” the work of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from industrialized countries to the global South where labor and technology are cheaper, reveals cause for concern. As I explain in World Bank: Climate Profiteer, a report released today by the Sustainable Energy and Economy Network at the Institute for Policy Studies, the Bank is supporting some of the most polluting industries in Southern countries, while advancing little toward its goal of “reach[ing] and benefit[ing] the poorest communities of the developing world,” in its carbon market work. And, it’s doing even less to promote clean, renewable alternatives in the energy industry.

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