After Years of Pressure, World Bank to Drastically Curb Funding of Fossil Fuels

“The World Bank’s announcement is important ; but more still needs to be done,” says

World leaders are meeting at the One Planet Summit on the second anniversary of the Paris Climate Agreement. Environmental supporters are cautiously  celebrating that the World Bank will stop funding oil and gas exploration and production projects after 2019. responded to the news by saying “more still needs to be done” to reduce funding for fossil fuel projects. However, Oil Change International (OCI) executive director Stephen Kretzmann said, “It is hard to overstate the importance of this announcement.”

“Environmental, human rights, and development campaigners have been calling for an end to World Bank funding of upstream oil and gas projects for decades,” Kretzmann explained. “Today the World Bank has raised the bar for climate leadership.”

More than 200 civil society groups, including OCI, signed an open letter demanding that the World Bank, G20 governments, and multilateral development banks stop funding fossil fuels. The news also coincides with the summit in Paris, which was jointly organized by World Bank president Jim Yong Kim, French President Emmanuel Macron, and António Guterres, the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

World leaders came together to discuss how their nations can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in accordance with the Paris Agreement. The World Bank’s announcement committed itself to the climate accord and outlined additional actions the group will take to address the climate crisis.

“Major financial institutions like the World Bank are pulling their support of fossil fuel projects for 2 reasons. They recognize that the pressure to do so is only going to increase and because they are bad investments,” said Kelly Martin, director of the Sierra Club Beyond Dirty Fuels campaign.

Additionally,  the French company Axa—one of the world’s largest insurers—announced Tuesday that it plans to dump investments and stop providing insurance to U.S. oil pipelines.  It will also quadruple its investments in environmentally-friendly projects by 2020.

“AXA has set a new global standard, raising the bar for other actors in the financial sector,” Patrick Bonin, a climate and energy campaigner with Greenpeace Canada added. “Meanwhile, the decision to exit from upstream oil and gas by the World Bank has sent a strong vote of non-confidence through the finance community. This is new proof that the oil industry’s days are numbered.”

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