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Why is the World Bank unwilling to invest in coal power?

Posted by suzanne at Jul 18, 2013 02:03 PM |
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The Bank has released a new policy paper pulling their support for coal-fired power plants and directing energy infrastrucutre investment toward low-carbon and renewable sources.

Why is the World Bank unwilling to invest in coal power?

Ben Serrurier, Program Associate

By Ben Serrurier
Climate Solutions


The World Bank has long been a bastion of status quo thinking and a favorite target for protestors around the world (welcome to Seattle, where 1999 seems like yesterday). But recently the Bank has joined the vanguard of financial institutions responding to the reality of climate change by sounding the alarm over warming and recognizing the need for low-carbon growth.

The Bank has released a new policy paper  pulling their support for coal-fired power plants and directing energy infrastrucutre investment toward low-carbon and renewable sources. The Bank’s announcement follows closely with President Obama’s announcement in June that the US would stop international aid for coal power.

Brad Plumer over at Washington Post’s Wonkblog has a deeper analysis about what this means for carbon emissions and coal investment (complete with fascinating data about who is funding coal projects around the world).  Plumer concedes that, “in the short term, the World Bank’s move may not have a huge practical impact” but it’s important not to undersell the symbolic value of the announcement. When the World Bank, one of the pillars of mainstream, institutional, cautious, economic thought, is putting its money where its mouth is when it comes to coal power and sustainable prosperity, it becomes undeniable that the conventional wisdom is turning against continued fossil fuel investment.

We have to ask, if the World Bank, of all organizations, is unwilling to invest in coal power, why would the Northwest? Why would anyone?

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