Sustainable Development

We create climate solutions that accelerate sustainable development, spur economic growth and fight poverty

Ending World Bank Coal Lending

Timely, data-rich and politically astute analysis by Climate Advisers contributed to the successful effort to end most World Bank financing of coal-fired power plants.

The World Bank has helped reduce global energy poverty, but often with a big carbon footprint. Climate Advisers calculated that shifting World Bank energy lending from coal to renewables and energy efficiency would reduce emissions by 250 million tons of carbon per year through 2030 – and inspire other investors to take similar action with even larger climate dividends.

Climate advocates tried unsuccessfully to convince the World Bank to stop financing coal projects. Developing nations refused so long as developed nations continued to build new coal plants themselves and progress seemed unlikely.

Climate Advisers then conducted an original analysis to change the conversation and show that financing coal plants in middle income countries isn’t just bad for the climate – it’s also bad development policy. In a paper published with the Brookings Institution, we demonstrated after a careful review of thousands of financial transactions that coal plants in developing nations do not require international subsidies – most are highly profitable and can be financed locally at low interest rates.

The Climate Advisers analysis not only emboldened climate champions to push harder, but also helped depoliticize international negotiations by shifting the terms of the debate. The key moment in this campaign came when the World Bank announced it would cut off almost all funding for new coal plants in middle-income countries around the world.

Mobilizing the U.S. Government to Support Sustainable Energy for All

Worldwide, about 1.3 billion people lack access to electricity, while 2.7 billion lack access to clean cooking fuels. Meeting their needs is central to reducing poverty. At the same time, we need to shift toward sustainable energy to confront climate change, the impacts of which are already being felt disproportionately by the poor. That requires a mix of renewable energy sources, fossil fuels, and energy-efficiency measures.

Fortunately, the two goals of ending energy poverty and protecting the Earth’s climate are compatible: ending energy poverty with this smart mix of energy sources and policies would only increase carbon dioxide emissions by 0.7 percent in 2030.

Climate Advisers worked with the Center for Global Development to synthesize extensive data and analysis on energy poverty, and created straightforward, politically realistic recommendations for how the United States should lead. We then organized a high-level event featuring a keynote address by the Secretary-General, who together with other distinguished speakers led a thoughtful discussion of one of the world’s most pressing development issues. Finally, we organized an exclusive meeting between the Secretary-General and top administration and political decision makers. Following these efforts, the United States joined other leading nations in endorsing efforts to end energy poverty in climate friendly ways by 2030.