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World Bank Shuns Funding Coal Fired Power

The World Bank has affirmed it will only  provide financial support for new greenfield coal based power generation in rare circumstances.

Those circumstances will be where there are no feasible alternatives to meeting basic energy needs.

In a new Energy Sector Directions Paper (PDF), the body has stated it will make every effort to “minimize the financial and environmental costs of expanding reliable energy supply”.

It will continue to finance all forms of renewable energy and will support more expensive clean energy options where there is strong client ownership, or if concessional climate finance can be sourced.

Commenting on the Paper, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim says affordable energy is needed to help end poverty and to build shared prosperity. “We will also scale up efforts to improve energy efficiency and increase renewable energy—according to countries’ needs and opportunities.”

The World Bank recognises the rapidly declining costs of wind and solar power are making these technologies competitive with fossil fuel based power generation in some settings. 

However, the Bank Group says it will also increase its support of developing national and regional markets for natural gas, which it says has the lowest carbon intensity of fossil fuels. 

While natural gas is approximately half as carbon-intensive as coal at the point of combustion; upstream fugitive emissions (escaping gas) add considerably to its greenhouse gas emissions impact; with some stating it has the equivalent impact of coal in that regard.

The World Bank says low income countries account for 12 percent of the world’s population, but only 1% of energy consumption. These nations have an electrification rate of just 30% and many millions of people are still reliant on heavily polluting fuels for light and heat.

Exposure to household air pollution through the burning of solid fuels killed an estimated 3.5 million people in 2010 and created many more cases of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.

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