Top UN climate change official Christiana Figueres said that it is ‘no longer necessary’ for the World Bank to rely on coal in its energy projects

Top UN climate change official Christiana Figueres said that it is ‘no longer necessary’ for the World Bank to rely on coal in its energy projects, saying that the organization should now focus on bringing alternative energy sources forward.

Figureres commended World Bank Director Jim Yong Kim on his commitment to climate action and acknowledged that coal has understandably played an important role in past energy development projects. She went on to say, however, that it is time for the World Bank to move on from coal.

Figueres said:
“It is one of the very serious challenges that the World Bank has, and it’s very understandable, because [coal] was a fuel that was critically important to developing countries at a certain stage in their development. So the fact that the bank has a portfolio of investment in coal is understandable from a historical perspective. …it is no longer necessary to do that, because we have many other technologies that can come forward.”

Her remarks come as the World Bank draws criticism for its support of a new coal power plant in Kosovo. Director Jim Yong Kim has defended the project because of unmet energy needs in the area, but many have challenged Kim’s assumption that coal power is a solution – including Kosovars.

Citing the alarming health consequences of coal, Kosovar activists have launched a major public health campaign against the new power plant through ads on national television and social media outlets, as well as a light projection on the World Bank building in Washington D.C. Opponents believe that Kosovo’s energy needs can be met more safely and effectively through greater energy efficiency and modest renewable energy projects.

Figueres, like the Kosovar activists, is highlighting the discrepancy between the World Bank’s commitment to mitigating climate change and its continued support for coal – one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the world, as well as an enormous burden on public health and the environment.

As an international funding organization, a decision from the World Bank to halt funding for coal would be a powerful statement of its decreasing viability as an energy source.

READ: Where Fossil Fuels Come From?

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