Saturday, September 19, 2009

Does Everyone at the World Bank Share the Same Brain Cell?

The World Bank certainly knows how to give mixed messages. The overfed, overpaid over there now admit the dangers of climate change, especially for developing countries, and they are urging industrialised countries to reduce carbon emissions. This took many years of arguing against the climate change denialists, who dominated industry and finance, so this was no mean feat.

But the World Bank is also financing massive coal fired electricity plants in developing countries that will pump out greenhouse gases for decades. In a country like Kenya, where they don't produce coal in large quantities, this will also mean an unwanted increase in dependence on imported energy.

Dearest World Bank people, we never expected genius to emanate from among you, but nor did we expect such total idiocy. Right now, foreign governments are gagging to get their hands on Kenyan land so they can grow crops for biofuels, even though one quarter or more Kenyans face food shortages and the country is experiencing prolonged drought. This will also increase the countries carbon emissions. And there are plenty of other things happening here that are inimical to emission reduction.

Perhaps the people at the World Bank have heard of solar energy? To this piece of knowledge, perhaps they could add the fact that Kenya and other African countries get a lot of sun? Or maybe I'm overloading your thought faculties a bit? Well, there's also something here called geothermal energy, which also emits little or no carbon. There's also wind energy, which I'm sure even World Bank people would have some understanding of.

So why, with these abundant sources of renewable, not polluting energy, does the World Bank choose a non-renewable, polluting source of energy that will cripple poor countries with debt and swell their balance of payments deficit?

Would it be an exaggeration to suggest that the people at the World Bank have completely lost it and shouldn't be trusted with a piggy bank, let alone the billions they propose wasting on increasing the potential catastrophes brought about by climate change?



George said...

Great post. Sadly the cynic in me believes that either the idiocy is useful and exploited by people of whom it might not press the definitions too hard to call evil (or at least greedy, selfish, corrupt, arrogant); or else those people themselves have their hands not only on the piggy bank but the reins/tiller/whip. They do not live among the people; but in gated communities and feel little for the world or the 6Bn other human beings in it.

Simon said...

Thanks George, I always find the WB's capacity for programmes that work at cross purposes uncanny. It's as if they want to balance the good and bad programmes so they never achieve anything. What you say about gated communities is all too real but according to sex workers here, people who work for NGOs make very lucrative clients. So it's not all bad.

Kirsty said...

Really great post - am gibberingly frustrated by all this stuff.

Simon said...

Hi Kirsty, thanks. I have yet to meet anyone who understands the World Bank or the IMF.

Claire said...

I think the WB is like all UN institutions - too large to have one coherent strategy implemented by all it arms. Some bits are achieving things, others are making it worse.

Simon said...

Hi Claire
Ok, but if everything they achieve is cancelled by something else they screw up then there is little or no net gain. Sadly, it seems very biased towards wealthier countries but perhaps being dominated by the US doesn't help. The terms 'international financial institution' and indeed 'World Bank' are questionable, also.