Environmental scientist Robert Goodland , who served the World Bank Group between 1978 and 2001 is credited with authoring some of the Bank’s environmental safeguard policies. He helped create the World Commission on Dams. In an e-mail interview, he tells Ranjan Panda that the Bank has become obsolete on sustainability issues
What has been the World Bank’s track record on mitigating climate change?
The Bank should be doing almost the opposite of what it has been doing. It must give up its credo of maximizing growth. By continuing to finance so much coal, so much livestock and so much deforestation I can’t see the World Bank helping in mitigating climate change. In fact, the World Bank Group refuses to make public the amount of ghg emissions it finances.
In July this year, the Bank’s watchdog, the Independent Evaluation Group (ieg) published a devastating critique which showed how the Bank is hurtling away from sustainability. The institutions that constitute the Bank are divided on policies. The International Finance Commission (ifc) privatizes profits while spreading costs of environmental damages to the society as a whole. In contrast, the International Bank of Reconstruction and Development seeks to internalize environmental costs but it has a lot to do on this front, according to the ieg.
Your views on the World Bank’s energy policy.
The World Bank group reversed its decade-long de facto moratorium against coal financing in 2003, as soon as an independent review recommended phasing out coal within five years. Today, the group finances major coal plants in China. In India, it finances Tata’s 4,000 mw coal plant in Mundra, Gujarat. It supports coal mines, two 2,500 mw power stations and a coal export unit in Botswana.