Fossil fuel funds should be used to ‘harness renewables’

World Bank funds should be invested in harnessing renewable energy instead of the extraction of oil, gas and coal if we are to meet environmental targets, says Thiemo Gropp, director of the DESERTEC Foundation.

Despite investing large sums in climate protection, more than $12bn (£7.5bn) in World Bank funds has been spent, over the last six years, on fossil fuel development.

Gropp was commenting on a report published this week by the World Bank, which called on governments around the world to redirect the $1tr (£627bn) spent overall every year on subsidies for fossil fuels to developing alternative energy sources.

“The World Bank makes an excellent proposal and one that it should translate into its own investment policy,” said Gropp.

“If politicians are serious about their climate ambitions, they must insist on stricter rules for the handling of public funds” he added.

The director of DESERTEC Foundation, a global civil society initiative, made it clear that if the $12bn had been invested in harnessing renewable energy in the sites where “the wind blows the hardest or the sun shines the fiercest” such as, the deserts of Asia, environmental mitigation efforts would already have taken a big step forward.

Along with other reports released recently, the World Bank stressed that it is the world’s poorest regions that will be hit hardest by a changing climate.

“Dangerous climate change would roll back a lot of the hard won improvements in people’s lives around the world. Rather than making poverty history, for many it could make poverty permanent” said Gropp.

Echoing the concerns raised by the World Bank, the UN released a report yesterday calling for more action to be taken before 2020 if the planet is to meet its target of limiting global warming to two degrees.

Leigh Stringer

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