Sustainable Energy

World Bank goes big on fighting climate change

Anmar Frangoul | Special to
Jacobs Stock Photography | Photographer's Choice | Getty Images

The World Bank has announced plans to fight climate change through a new Climate Change Action Plan that it hopes will see investment in environmental projects reach $29 billion a year by 2020.

In a statement on Thursday, the Bank said that, in the next five years, it planned to help countries in the developing world add 30 gigawatts of renewable energy to global energy capacity; provide "early warning systems" to 100 million people; and develop "climate-smart agriculture investment plans for at least 40 countries."

The news comes in the wake of the historic COP21 agreement reached in Paris at the end of 2015. There, 195 countries agreed to make sure global warming stayed "well below" 2 degrees Celsius and to "pursue efforts" to limit the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The Bank said its announcement came a fortnight before the world's leaders meet in New York to sign the Paris Agreement.

"Following the Paris climate agreement, we must now take bold action to protect our planet for future generations," Jim Yong Kim, World Bank Group President, said in a statement on Thursday.

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"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," he added.

"Developing countries want our help to implement their national climate plans, and we'll do all we can to help them."

Overall, the Bank said its Action Plan would look to deliver on a commitment from 2015 to boost – with support from members – climate financing to "potentially $29 billion annually by 2020."

As part of its plans, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), part of the World Bank Group, will aim to increase its "climate investments" from $2.2 billion to $3.5 billion a year, as well as leveraging an extra $13 billion a year from the private sector by 2020.

In addition, the World Bank Group would look to "mobilize" $25 billion in "commercial financing for clean energy."

The senior director for climate change at the World Bank Group said the issue was a pressing one. "If we don't act, climate change threatens to drive 100 million more people into poverty in the next 15 years," John Roome said in a statement on Thursday.

"The Action Plan will allow us to help developing countries more quickly, and in the areas where support is most needed, such as disaster preparedness, social protection, and coastal protection," he added.