Fossil fuels threaten to undermine efforts to address climate change, warns coalition

(Photo: Unsplash/Thomas Millot)

A coalition of Christian and secular development groups has welcomed the World Bank Group's new climate targets while warning that efforts will be undermined by continued investment in fossil fuels.

The World Bank Group announced on Monday that it aims to provide $200 billion in financial assistance between 2021 and 2025 for climate adaptation and resilience measures, including carbon emissions reduction.

The Big Shift Global coalition, which includes Tearfund and Christian Aid among its members, said developing countries needed 'far more' support to reduce their emissions and mitigate the 'devastating' impact of climate change that many of them are already experiencing, like increasingly extreme weather and a decrease in food production.

The coalition welcomed the World Bank Group's new targets but said they fell short in the provision of adequate financing for renewable energy, which it said was necessary to achieve universal energy access by 2030 - one of the objectives of the Sustainable Development Goals.

It also questioned the silence from the World Bank Group on its continued financing for fossil fuels. Although the World Bank Group has previously committed to limiting coal finance, the coalition said the current statement did not make clear whether financing would continue for oil and gas.

The coalition said that if financing for fossil fuel persists, it 'will continue to undermine efforts to fight climate change'.

Ben Niblett, senior campaigner at Tearfund said: 'The World Bank has stepped up its climate commitments and provided a boost to the urgently needed finance for the most vulnerable to adapt to devastating floods, storms and droughts.

'But millions of people are still living in the dark without clean, affordable energy. To avoid people being left behind and to boost economic growth, the World Bank must significantly scale up investments in off-grid renewable energy, like solar.'