February 15, 2023

Bronwen Tucker,
Collin Rees,

Response: Malpass departure from World Bank Group must be the start of a fossil free, just future at the institution

WASHINGTON, DC — World Bank President David Malpass has announced he will step down by June 30, one year before his term ends. In response, Bronwen Tucker, Public Finance Campaign Co-Manager at Oil Change International, released the following statement: 

“Today’s news is a credit to people-powered movements around the world. It is hard to think of a worse President for the World Bank Group than a Trump-appointed climate denier and the chief economist of Bear Stearns ahead of the 2008 recession. But even with David Malpass’ departure, the Bank will still be far from its stated aim of being a climate leader. 

“World Bank Group still funds more fossil fuels than any other multilateral development bank, and further props up the industry through heavy-handed policy advice. Ending this support for oil, gas, and coal needs to be priority number one in the coming weeks. Once an ‘early mover’ as one of the first financial institutions to agree to end upstream support for oil and gas in 2017, the Bank has now fallen far behind a growing list of peers who have signed and met a joint commitment to stop funding fossils altogether by the end of 2022. 

“To stop undermining climate action and just development, the Bank’s government shareholders must move beyond ending all support for fossil fuels by canceling unfair debts and democratizing Bank governance.”


Notes to Editors

  • Oil Change International’s Public Finance for Energy Database shows the World Bank Group provides more fossil fuel support than any other multilateral development bank, at an average of USD 1.4 billion per year from 2019 to 2021. Due to poor reporting, this likely understates fossil support through financial intermediaries and policy-based lending.
  • Brand new data from Oil Change International (available by request) suggests this trend continued even as Malpass faced extra scrutiny last year. In 2022, we estimate World Bank Group provided at least USD 930 million in finance for fossil fuels. Roughly 94% of this finance was for fossil gas, which the 2021 WBG Climate Change Action Plan says can continue to be supported if it fits still-undefined climate and development criteria. 
  • Under pressure to respond to climate-denying comments from their President David Malpass, the World Bank Group stated “the World Bank (IBRD / IDA) did zero new fossil fuel financing in FY 2021.” This statement is misleading and ignores policy-based lending as well as activities from other World Bank Group organizations like the International Finance Corporation and Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, which continue to provide direct project support for fossil fuels. 
  • Earlier this month, 20+ civil society groups sent a joint letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen outlining the transformational reforms needed at the World Bank Group in order to address systemic issues, including the climate crisis. These reforms — including ending financing for fossil fuels, rejecting misguided approaches to private finance and regressive policy advice, democratizing governance, and debt forgiveness, among others — would free up significant finance and political space for truly sustainable and just development solutions. Further analysis on the limitations of Evolution Roadmap to are available in this briefing from Urgewald and this article from Recourse.