David Malpass, president of the World Bank Group, has announced that he will resign from his position on 30 June, a year before his term expires.
Malpass had come under fire in recent months for questioning whether fossil fuels were driving climate change. When speaking at a public event last September, Malpass refused to say whether he believed man-made emissions were causing global warming. Despite being pressed several times, Malpass demurred, explaining “I’m not a scientist.”
At the same event, former US vice president and climate champion Al Gore earlier in the day called for the World Bank president to be replaced. Gore claimed that “we need to get a new head of the World Bank,” as it was “ridiculous to have a climate denier as the head of the World Bank”.
However, two days later Malpass was working to reverse course. In an interview, Malpass said: “It’s clear that greenhouse gas emissions are coming from man-made sources, including fossil fuels.”
Malpass, an appointee of former US president Donald Trump, started his five-year term in April 2019. Trump had famously called climate change an “expensive hoax” and withdrew the US from the Paris Climate Agreement during his first year in office.
By custom, the president of the World Bank is an American, nominated by the US. If that tradition continues, President Biden will have an opportunity to name Malpass’s replacement for a new five-year term.
However, proposals have been floated to reform the World Bank so it is better placed to respond to the climate crisis. Additional changes to the World Bank’s structure following Cop27 could result in increased funding for climate-related projects. Although the World Bank has pledged that 35% of its funding will be directed to projects with “climate co-benefits,” the next president may be able to increase that percentage.
The World Bank was established in 1944 to help provide infrastructure funding following the second world war. Today, it largely provides investment capital for lower to middle-income nationals. For individuals in the nations subject to the worst effects of global climate change, World Bank funding can be the difference between survival and catastrophe.
This page was last updated February 20, 2023
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