Really, World Bank?

We knew there were still agents of climate skepticism, and even deniers, in important positions of influence. But the person trusted to lead the World Bank is among the last we would expect to be one of them. Really. Read about it in Bill McKibben’s newsletter:

The Global Banker Who’s Not Sure the Globe is Warming

Biden’s Easiest Climate Call Ever is to Ditch David Malpass

Some essential climate tasks are hard and expensive and take years.

And a few could not be easier. President Biden needs—now—to get rid of David Malpass as the head of the World Bank.

The easiest reason to explain why he’s got to go is that he’s a climate denier—maybe the highest placed one left in the world. Here’s what he said yesterday on a stage in New York City during the UN’s “Climate Week,” while being interviewed by a happily bulldoggish David Gelles of the New York Times. Remember as you read this that this was not in 1993 or 2004 or maybe 2011 when there was still some slightly respectable cover for this kind of thing. He said it yesterday, in 2022, with Pakistan and Puerto Rico underwater. I quote it at length because historians will want to read it some day.

David Gelles: I don’t know if you’ve heard, but [former vice president Al Gore] referred to you, in his remarks publicly on stage here as a climate denier. Would you clear the air? Do you accept the scientific consensus that the burning of fossil fuels is dangerously warming the planet, let’s just start there with some level setting.

David Malpass: Okay. That’s, that’s a odd spot to start, but I’m very happy to be here. Thank you very much for the invitation. I was the first invitee and I’m happy to be here. I don’t know all of the all of the instances that you’re talking about, I’ve been very pleased to have super strong US government support across the board on the initiatives that we’ve been taking. Some people that are critical, I think, are unfounded, they, they may not know what the World Bank is doing. Some of them are simply not involved in the efforts that are going on to actually have an impact. People fly to meetings, and then make pledges, and then they’re gone. And so I really think it might be useful if I just go through what the World Bank is doing…

David Gelles: Absolutely. I want to talk about all that more in detail with all our panelists, I also want to give you one more chance to directly address former Vice President Gore’s claim that he made on this stage that you were a climate denier, his words.

David Malpass: Very odd, I’ve never met him. He’s not involved in the efforts that we’re doing. He may present as a climate person, I don’t know what impact that’s having.

David Gelles: Okay. Do let me just be as clear as I can. Do you accept the scientific consensus that the manmade burning of fossil fuels is rapidly and dangerously warming the planet?

David Malpass: I don’t know if everyone wants to comment on that. What we are doing is having impact projects that …

David Gelles: Will you answer the question?

David Malpass :We have a mission of a World Bank, that’s powerful.

David Gelles : Will you answer the question? Is that…

David Malpass: I don’t even know… I’m not a scientist. And that is not a question… so Al Gore can put… I don’t know why it stays on the stage… what we need to do is move forward with impactful projects.

Actually, though, the fact that he doesn’t know if climate change is real is, by itself, not the deep problem here. (It’s merely a demonstration that he’s not a good guy, which is unsurprising when you learn that he was Trump’s undersecretary of the Treasury, a job he prepared for by, to quote the always deadpan Wikipedia, “serving as chief economist for Bear Stearns for six years preceding its collapse.”) The real trouble is that, as a result of his waffling, the World Bank is continuing to fund fossil fuel projects long after the International Energy Agency has said that it must stop, and long after the world’s scientists have run screaming from the room, and it is not making it as easy as it should for developing countries to borrow money for renewable energy.

Read the whole newsletter here.

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