Dr. Kim, President of the World Bank, has declared the world must do more to address climate disruption. His lofty rhetoric has soared over that of previous World Bank presidents, drawing widespread support for his progressive stance. But for those who follow this institution closely, one thing has always been true – talk is cheap. That’s why all eyes are now focused on whether Dr. Kim will walk the walk by rejecting a highly controversial new coal plant in the tiny Eastern European country of Kosovo. When it comes to making decisions that test their willingness to build climate legacies, President Obama has the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, and Dr. Kim has a massive coal plant in Kosovo.
Dr. Kim’s decision should be cut-and-dried. The World Bank recently put coal finance restrictions in place, putting the institution on the right side of history. These restrictions essentially ended the institution’s support for the most carbon-intensive and destructive fossil fuel known to man or, as Grist blogger David Roberts, calls it, “the enemy of the human race.” But rather than adhere to these restrictions, let alone his own calls to address climate disruption, Dr. Kim is allowing the World Bank to pave the way for support for yet another coal plant, this time in Kosovo.
About three years ago, the World Bank began considering a loan guarantee for the construction of a new coal plant in Kosovo on the baseless assertion that this tiny nation was a renewable energy wasteland. But that’s not the case. In fact, the Bank’s own former chief clean-energy czar, Dr. Daniel Kammen, released a study showing that Kosovo can power itself with clean energy and do so more cheaply while producing more jobs than it would by building a coal plant. But rather than listen to his own former staff, Dr. Kim, a public health champion, has made embarrassing statements about Kosovars “freezing to death” as the alternative to funding this controversial project.