Greens welcome World Bank decision to offload coal

Friday, 19 July, 2013

The Australian Greens have welcomed reports that the World Bank will no longer fund coal-fired power stations in poor countries.

This follows the International Energy Agency’s recent claim that two thirds of the world’s coal must stay in the ground to avoid a 2°C rise in average temperatures that would leave millions of people trapped in poverty.

“The World Bank’s mission is to assist developing nations out of poverty and part of this solution is to address global warming,” said Greens Leader Senator Christine Milne.

“Climate change will be a major barrier to development in many parts of the world because it will exacerbate water and food shortages, extreme weather events and a wide range of diseases. 

“The primacy of coal as the world’s main fuel for electricity generation is clearly coming to an end. Better late than never.”

The Greens took the opportunity to call for other multilateral lending institutions, including the Asian Development Bank, to follow the World Bank’s lead.

They also called for the Australian Government Future Fund to divest itself of coal assets. According to Milne, “Fossil fuel investments account for about 3% of the Future Fund’s assets, so replacing coal with less risky investments would not only be possible but potentially more profitable.”

She quoted British economist Professor Lord Stern, who said in the report ‘Unburnable carbon 2013: Wasted capital and stranded assets’, “Investing in companies that rely solely or heavily on constantly replenishing reserves of fossil fuels is becoming a very risky decision.”

“Our Future Fund should not be backing risky investments with taxpayers’ money,” Milne said.

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