Banking on a Clean Future?

Then you probably shouldn’t turn to the World Bank, according to David Wheeler from the Center for Global Development. Last week, Wheeler testified before the House as to why the World Bank, with its current state and practices, is not the ideal candidate to oversee the Clean Tech Fund.

President Bush created and authorized $400 million for the Clean Tech Fund to work through the World Bank to finance the additional costs of deploying clean energy technologies. A rare effort by this Administration, the fund aims to be multilateral, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and engage developing countries.

But as Climate Progress has noted previously, critics do not agree that the World Bank is the best avenue for this effort. It’s large and bureaucratic, and its interests are not always aligned with the (clean) purpose of this fund, as the World Bank also heavily funds coal plants. (Talk about mixed market signals.)

David Wheeler, mentioned above, led the critical cries at a House hearing last week. You can read the details of his testimony at the CGD blog (and watch a quick video), in addition to a forthcoming report by Wheeler and a colleague on the potential of solar thermal in contrast to coal-fired plants.


Clearly in opposition to funding the ‘supercritical’ technology Climate Progress raised last time, Wheeler argued that (pulled from the CDG blog):

  • “Congress should not agree to provide American taxpayer support [unless] the proposal is revised to ensure strategic use of the CTF to make zero-emissions renewable energy cost-competitive with energy from fossil fuels.”
  • “The CTF must focus on renewables that have the potential to be cost-competitive within a few years, and exclude projects that merely improve fossil-fuel combustion efficiency. In particular, the CTF should exclude all proposals for coal-fired power.”
  • “The revised proposal must include a commitment by the World Bank to adopt carbon accounting… Without carbon accounting, the World Bank cannot select the most cost-effective projects, track progress on emissions reduction, or fulfill the Clean Technology Fund’s mandate of helping developing countries bridge the gap between dirty and clean technology.”

Others have posited similarly with regards to the World Bank’s interaction with climate change and role facilitating funds.

All the more reason why — between these constructive criticisms and his anticipated research on how clean technologies, such as solar thermal, can be cost competitive with dirty, fossil fuel-based energy sources — David Wheeler is one of the most valuable voices out there. His experience with the private sector and financing merged with his concern for development and sustainability are not insights that should be underestimated by Congress.

— Kari Manlove