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Why climate activists want Biden to fire David Malpass from the World Bank : NPR

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Activists held a banner calling David Malpass a climate denier at the World Bank headquarters after refusing to say whether he believed human-made emissions contributed to global warming.

Olivier Doolery/AFP via Getty Images


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Activists held a banner calling David Malpass a climate denier at the World Bank headquarters after refusing to say whether he believed human-made emissions contributed to global warming.

Olivier Doolery/AFP via Getty Images

Climate activists have called on President Biden to take steps to fire World Bank president David Malpass, after he publicly questioned whether he believed greenhouse gas emissions from human activity were causing climate change, saying “I am not a scientist.”

Malpass made the remarks after former Vice President and climate activist Al Gore called him a “climate denier” of the hour. The New York Times On the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly earlier this week.

Malpass then tried to clean up his comments, saying Politico On Friday it was a “poorly chosen line”. Malpass defended the bank’s investments and said he would not resign.

It did little to silence calls for his dismissal.

“We need climate leaders at the World Bank, we need climate leaders at the Federal Reserve, we need climate leaders in every aspect of the senior office,” said Thano Yakupetiag, a spokesperson for 350.org, an anti-fossil fuels advocacy group. .

“If he’s not the one pushing and putting pressure on the World Bank in a new direction that’s already working on climate initiatives, he has to go,” Jakopetiag said.


David Malpass, President of the World Bank, speaks at an event on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Riccardo Savi/Getty Images for the Concordia Summit


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David Malpass, President of the World Bank, speaks at an event on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Riccardo Savi/Getty Images for the Concordia Summit

The White House publicly declares its displeasure

Malpass’ climate debate quickly reached top White House officials, who were in New York this week for the United Nations General Assembly. A senior administration official told reporters that was “clearly surprising”.

On Friday, White House press secretary Karen Jean-Pierre Malpass directly criticized the bank — and did not say whether President Biden retains confidence in Malpass’s leadership.

“We disagree with President Malpass’ statements,” Jean-Pierre told reporters. “We expect the World Bank to be a global leader in climate ambition and mobilize more climate finance for developing countries,” she said, noting that the Treasury “has and will continue to demonstrate this.”

The United States plays a major role in the presidential nomination. But Jean-Pierre said other countries contributing to the bank would have a say in any change of leadership.

“Impeaching him would require a majority of shareholders – and that’s something to keep in mind,” she told reporters.


Former President Donald Trump shakes hands with David Malpass on February 6, 2019 after his nomination to lead the World Bank.

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Former President Donald Trump shakes hands with David Malpass on February 6, 2019 after his nomination to lead the World Bank.

Alex Wong / Getty Images

This isn’t the first time Malpass has been under fire

Malpass was nominated for a five-year term at the bank in 2019 by former President Donald Trump. The World Bank’s board of directors usually approves the nomination of the United States, which is the Bank’s largest shareholder.

It has long been criticized by climate and environmental advocates for continuing to fund fossil fuel projects around the world. They argue that more needs to be done to transition to cleaner energy sources.

Scott Morris, associate director of sustainable development finance at the Center for Global Development, said Malpass’s recent comments were a “notable gaffe” – but said there was a deeper fault line between the Bank and climate activists.

“Climate advocates are increasingly frustrated that this institution that is already a central player is not showing the kind of climate ambition they think is necessary,” Morris said, explaining that Malpass was not pushing to lead the bank in that direction.

“You compare it to where the climate community thinks the bank needs to go and it simply isn’t ambitious enough,” Morris said. “He is clearly not trying to push the Bank further in the right direction and has not demonstrated any particular climate ambition beyond the baseline of the support the Bank is providing at the moment.”

Lisa Frank, executive director of the Washington Legislative Office for the American Environment, said it was good that Malpass finally admitted that his observations were inadequate. But she said actions speak louder than words. “Investing in fossil fuel projects is not in line with what we need to do to tackle global warming,” Frank said.

Malpass admits he could have done a better job on this matter

Earlier this month, the World Bank called for $31.7 billion to be spent in fiscal 2022 to help countries tackle climate change and described itself as “the world’s largest funder of climate action in developing countries.” Projects range from expanding the solar industry in India, to biodegradation programs across sub-Saharan Africa, to increasing access to affordable electricity in Nigeria.

Malpass defended the bank’s record on climate, saying it had done a “strong leadership job” and was using climate science to find investments that would have the greatest impact. He said he was surprised by a question about his beliefs about climate change.

When asked ‘Are you a climate denier?’ I should have said ‘No,’ said Malpass. “No one said that other one Al Gore said, and it was pretty much off topic,” he said in Politico Event.

“Greenhouse gas emissions from human activity are clearly increasing and causing climate change, so the task for us – for the world – is to put together projects and financing that really has an impact,” he said.

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