Proposal to Limit World Bank Fossil-Fuel Investments Sparks Controversy

The World Bank has not yet officially responded to an independent report released last year that recommends it cease investing in oil and coal projects, but that hasn’t stopped industry and enviro leaders from taking sides in a fierce debate over the matter. The World Bank has postponed an official response to the report — originally expected in April or May — until later this year, but leaked drafts indicate that the bank is likely to reject the report’s most controversial recommendations while adopting some of less contentious. Large African mining companies, international banks, and governments of developing nations are protesting that economic development would be stunted if the bank curtailed funding for fossil-fuel projects. On the other side, a host of enviros and at least six Nobel laureates are advocating adoption of all of the report’s recommendations. Though the bank itself is not a huge investor, its decision will have big consequences because most of the world’s major banks have pledged to follow its practices.