The World Bank and Climate Change and The Cobbler Should Stick To His Last

Climate change is something that should keep us all “up at night,” World Bank President Jim Yong Kim told CNBC.” “The science is absolutely clear, and 98 percent of climate scientists agree that man-made climate change is real and that the effects of climate change and a warming planet are much more severe at 0.8 degrees than we would have imagined.”

Sorry, sir. The science is far from clear. And although 98% of scientists agree that man-made climate change is real (as do most skeptics), that’s the easy part. And it is not true that the effects of climate change are more severe now than expected. In fact when looking at drought, heatwaves, storms, sea level rise and other expected impacts, they are the dog that didn’t bark–the major effect from human emissions has been a greener planet supporting more productive agriculture.

But then, he’s the president of the World Bank, not a climate scientist. And the World Bank has form when it comes to the environment.

It is bad form. It needs reform. The idea that the world should listen to the World Bank on climate change is daft. They have been enthusiastic funders of biofuel plants and farms that increase CO2 emissions while displacing the original inhabitants. They are trustees of a green climate fund that is doing literally nothing to reduce emissions. And they are trying to erase from our memory the fact that they have been funding fossil fuel plants for decades. This is Greenwashing Gone Wild.


The left has been no less harsh in its criticisms of the World Bank. They claim that World Bank loans privilege large infrastructure projects like building dams and electric plants over projects that would benefit the poor, such as education and basic health care. Worse, these projects often have wreaked havoc on the local environment. Forests, rivers, and fisheries have been devastated by World Bank–financed projects. Some projects even have led to the forced resettlement of indigenous communities. One estimate holds that more than two and a half million people have been displaced by projects made possible through World Bank loans.”

An internal investigation has revealed that the World Bank has invested in a palm oil and food company implicated in serious rights abuses in Honduras. The investigation centers on a $30 million loan to palm oil and food company Corporación Dinant by the IFC. The expansion of palm oil plantations in the Aguán Valley has long been associated with extensive abuses, including the killing, kidnapping and forced eviction of farmers. The CAO cites allegations that 102 members of peasant associations in the Aguán Valley have been murdered in the last four years, 40 of these associated with Dinant property or its security guards.

Environmentalist and anti-globalization groups point to specific failed projects. The Sardar Sarovar dam on the Narmada River in India was expected to displace almost a quarter of a million people into squalid resettlement sites. The Polonoroeste Frontier Development scheme has led to large-scale deforestation in the Brazilian rain forest. In Thailand, the Pak Mun dam has destroyed the fisheries of the Mun River, impoverishing thousands who had made their living fishing and forever altering the diet of the region.”


In another report we find “Projects funded by the World Bank have displaced more than three million people in the past decade, according to a group of investigative journalists. Activists say the bank needs to upgrade its human rights policies.” The World Bank admitted to “serious shortcomings in the implementation of its resettlement policies” after it had ordered an internal review of its actions. “I believe that we must do better in implementing our resettlement policies,” World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said.

Climate change is big and will require big funding to address, something the World Bank will be heavily involved in. It would behoove the leader of that institution to understand what the science actually says rather than parroting the increasingly bizarre claims of activists.

“Since the creation of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) in 2010, concerns have grown about the World Bank’s potential role in designing policies to determine the allocation of resources for adaptation and mitigation activities in developing countries.

…”The Bank is criticised because some of its investments have had negative social and economic impacts on populations in countries receiving financial assistance, including affecting the living conditions of indigenous peoples and, in some cases, the violation of human rights. The Bank is also criticised due to the conditionalities imposed on borrower countries.

Lidy Nacpil, the regional coordinator of the Jubilee South Asia-Pacific Movement on Debt and Development said: “The World Bank has been at the forefront of financing fossil-fuel projects that have exacerbated the climate crisis. It is now an ironic contradiction that this same institution that has greatly contributed to the climate crisis is to be entrusted with funds that promise to address the very same problem it helped to create in the first place”

Even better, perhaps the head of the World Bank should focus on something like… banking.

A number of former World Bank employees, including former chief economist Joseph Stiglitz, publicly criticize both the World Bank and the IMF. Their voices add credibility and an “insider” perspective to worldwide opposition to the destructive orthodoxies of the two institutions. In response, the Bank has attempted to censor several leading employees and contractors who deviated from neoliberal models of growth, trade liberalization, and privatization.

While Bank management boasts about the World Bank’s contribution to economic growth in developing countries, the IEG study stresses that in many countries growth has failed to reduce poverty because it has been very unevenly distributed, and also very volatile. The report criticizes Bank programs for failing to adapt to local conditions and for not considering the poor’s vulnerability to price and currency liberalizations.”

A study released by World Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) says that the Bank has not done enough to foster sustained export-growth and to tackle poverty in poor countries. While encouraging market liberalization, the Bank failed to address poor countries’ vulnerability caused by their dependence on few export products.

Your insomnia may well be deserved–but it should be due to the poor performance of your organization, not phantasmagorical nightmares about climate change. The Free Dictionary has some advice for you:

Let the cobbler stick to his last.

Prov. Do not advise someone in matters outside your area of expertise.

3 responses to “The World Bank and Climate Change and The Cobbler Should Stick To His Last

  1. Notice the nationalistic patronage system at play.
    For some reason the South Koreans are getting a lot of high profile statist positions: UN, IPCC, World Bank and God only knows what else. What is disturbing me is that the dogs are barking in chorus.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s