Environment Forum

The World Bank’s $6 billion man on climate change

BIRDFLU INDONESIAAs the special envoy on climate change for the World Bank, Andrew Steer might be thought of as the $6 billion man of environmental finance. He oversees more than that amount for projects to fight the effects of global warming.

“More funds flow through us to help adaptation and mitigation than anyone else,” Steer said in a conversation at the bank’s Washington headquarters. Named to the newly created position in June, Steer said one of his priorities is to marshall more than $6 billion in the organization’s Climate Investment Funds to move from smaller pilot projects to large-scale efforts.

While the World Bank is not a party to global climate talks set for Cancun, Mexico, later this year, it is deeply engaged in this issue, Steer said. Acknowledging that an international agreement on climate change is a long shot this year, he said there are still opportunities to make changes to cut the greenhouse gas emissions that spur climate change.

PERU/“We do see there are opportunities,” Steer said. “The mistake would be if it’s sort of all or nothing.” The bank is strongly supporting action to limit deforestation, offer quick financing to start climate projects and reform carbon markets to extend them to countries that have been left out so far.

Even though the World Bank won’t be at the negotiating table in Cancun, its members will be there, and 80 percent of them want the bank to focus on climate change, Steer said. It’s all part of a what he sees as a fundamental shift in the international attitude toward dealing with this problem.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Pakistan’s cry for water

Pakistan is running out of water so fast that the shortage will strangulate all water-based economic activity by 2015, a Pakistani thinktank says.  And that pretty much covers 70 percent of the population  who are involved in farming.

This is not a new warning.  In recent months,  as this blog itself has noted, experts have painted an increasingly bleak scenario of Pakistan's rivers drying up, the ground water polluted and over-exploited and the whole water infrastructure in a shambles.

But Pakistan, as the Islamabad-based Centre for Research and Security Studies says, is not listening.  Pakistan has gone from a "water scarce" country to a "water-stressed" country, worse than Ethiopia, the Centre says quoting a  2006 World Bank study. In 10 years time, it will become a water-famine country.  

Can Indiana Jones help save tigers?

World Bank President Robert Zoellick (L) and actor Harrison Ford take part in the launch of the Tiger Conservation Initiative at the National Zoo in Washington June 9, 2008. The initiative will bring together wildlife experts, scientists and governments to try to halt the killing and thriving illegal trade in tiger skins, meat and body parts used in traditional Asian medicines. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (UNITED STATES)Indiana Jones and the World Bank sound like an odd couple to get anything done (“Quick, shoot that robber!” “Wait, we have to do a two-year feasibility study first!”) but are part of a new alliance trying to save the world’s tigers. (Read my colleague Leslie Wroughton’s fine story here)

Will it work? Tigers are under threat from loss of prey and habitats and a black market in tiger skins and bones.

And tiger numbers have plunged to about 4,000 today from more than 100,000 a century ago, according to the new International Tiger Coalition, led by the World Bank with backing from celebrities such as “Indiana Jones” star Harrison Ford, Bo Derek and Robert Duvall. Ford is a board member of Conservation InternationalA tiger at London Zoo peers through the bars of its cage, January 20, before a photo-call arranged to publicise Britain’s role in a global campaign to save the endangered species. Tiger numbers are dwindling worldwide, as the use of tiger parts in traditional Chinese medicine increases. HP

Coaly smoke! Green ire over huge India coal plant

coal2.jpgGreens are seeing red this week after the World Bank approved partial financing for a $4.2 billion coal-fired power station in India.

   The 4,000 MW plant will provide crucial power for millions of Indians, prove a much-needed boost for industry and use “super-critical” technology that will make it India’s most-efficient coal-fired plant.

   The Bank’s board approved $450 million in loans through its International Finance Corp for the Tata Mundra project and the IFC said it looked at many alternative ideas, including wind and solar, but found the giant coal power station was the best solution.

  •