World Bank to poor: “Coal’s good enough for you!”

Cross-posted from Grist

The World Bank — famous for funding gobsmackingly huge, planet-killing coal-fired power plants — is changing its tune, sort of. Under a new set of proposed rules, the Bank would only be allowed to fund gobsmackingly huge, planet-killing coal-fired power plants in the world’s poorest countries. Progress!

Okay, that sounds dastardly, but it’s a little complicated. The world’s poorest countries are exactly the countries that will suffer most under climate change, so less coal is good (though no coal would be better). But they’re also the countries for whom energy poverty represents an even bigger threat than climate change, meaning that knocking out a cheap energy source could be disastrous. The World Bank’s basically offering a shitty solution to a shitty problem.

Green groups are already accusing the bank of greenwashing. I guess it depends on whether or not you think the new rules — under which the world’s middle-class countries are ineligible for coal, but plenty eligible for renewables — represent progress. Could this have anything to do with the Bank’s recent addition of renewables expert Dan Kammen? The man is famously opposed to subsidizing fossil fuels, after all.

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