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World Bank pledges $16B to climate change projects

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The World Bank, the biggest provider of public finance to developing countries, has earmarked 28% of its 2016 budget for projects that  mitigate climate change, according to a statement released on Thursday. All of its future spending will take global warming into account, and all projects considered for WBG funding, including health and education, will now be screened for climate change resiliency. Refocusing investment towards green initiatives represents a significant adjustment to its overarching mandate to reduce global poverty.John Roome, World Bank senior director for climate change, said in a statement, “This is a fundamental shift for the World Bank. We are putting climate change into our DNA.”  Climate related disasters such as food insecurity and drought could to push another 100 million people into poverty within the next 15 years.

Last December, the Paris Conference of Parties (aka COP 21), agreed that wealthy nations would fund developing countries involved in the pact with $100 billion USD per year by 2020. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change website states that funding could come from bilateral or multilateral, public or private sources, including creative financing (such as France’s contribution to the financial transaction tax). Public financing was equally flexible, and could take the form of multilateral funds such as the Green Climate Fund; regional institutions such as the World Bank; and government contributions.

“Following the Paris climate agreement, we must now take bold action to protect our planet for future generations,” said Jim Yong Kim, World Bank Group (WBG) president. “We are moving urgently to help countries make major transitions to increase sources of renewable energy, decrease high-carbon energy sources, develop green transport systems and build sustainable, livable cities for growing urban populations. Developing countries want our help to implement their national climate plans, and we’ll do all we can to help them.”

Beginning immediately, WBG will give at least $16 billion USD annually to be spent on a portfolio of climate change projects including renewable energy development to power 150 million homes; construction of early warning systems for climate-related disasters – think extreme storms and floods – for 100 million people; “smart” agriculture systems, which use less water and energy and keep soil fertility; development of transport and urban infrastructure that produce less carbon. It also aims to mobilize an extra $13 billion from private sector contributions by 2020.

More than 1 billion people still live in destitution. At the same time, inequality is rising in many developing nations. The World Bank works to galvanize international and national support around two goals: to almost end extreme poverty in a generation and to push for greater equity.


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