World Bank chief calls for ‘zero net emissions’ by 2100

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The President of the World Bank, Dr Jim Yong Kim, has used a speech broadcast on Monday from Washington DC to COP20 in Lima to call on delegates to commit to cutting emissions of greenhouse gases to zero before the end of the century.

Dr Kim called on all countries to impose a cost on greenhouse gas emissions, to send a signal to the market to invest in cleaner alternatives to oil, coal, and gas.

“All countries should commit to put a price on carbon. It’s a necessary if not sufficient step to zero net emissions.”

Dr Kim acknowledged that developing countries in particular should have the flexibility to make the necessary policy reforms in their own way.

“We understand that many of our clients still face huge development challenges and many countries will reach their own peak emissions [of greenhouse gases]at different moments,” Dr Kim said.

Dr Kim also called for the elimination of subsidies to fossil fuels, saying that the issue had lain in leaders’ “politically hard basket” for too long. In 2009, the G20 pledged to phase out “inefficient” fossil fuel subsidies but has since made only slow progress.

The world’s taxpayers currently support oil, gas, and coal exploration with more than US$ 500 billion in subsidies annually- a sum Dr Kim said worked primarily in favour of the wealthy while doing little to help the poor.

According to a report released earlier this year by the Overseas Development Institute and Oil Change International, the G20 countries alone spend US$ 88 billion each year in tax breaks and other support to private-sector exploration for oil, gas, and coal—more than double the investment of the companies themselves.

Those opposed to subsidies say they serve to keep energy and transport costs artificially low, encourage wasteful consumption, and delay the transition to cleaner energy and fuels.

In 2008, Peru subsidized oil and gas exploration to the tune of US$ 600 million subsidies but has since made efforts to reduce government support.

Dr Kim, a former Harvard University professor of medicine, also said that the science on climate change was indisputable.

“I don’t think there is anything in medicine around which there is that kind of consensus.”

The World Bank is the largest and oldest of the multilateral development banks. Since 2010, the Bank has loaned Peru more than US$ 1.2 billion.

Also on Monday, Climate Action International, an alliance of over 900 nongovernmental organizations, awarded the Peruvian government its “Fossil of the Day” award for what it says is an erosion of the Environment Ministry’s powers.

CAN says there are serious concerns that new laws passed this year by the Congress weaken the ability of environmental bodies to regulate the environmental impacts of Peru’s economic growth.

“We fear that by undermining the Ministry of Environment, elements of the government are making it more difficult for Peru to take effective and adequate climate action,” CAN said in a statement.

The “Fossil of the Day” award is something of a tradition at COP events and is issued to those countries deemed to be thwarting efforts to deal with climate change effectively. Meanwhile, Peru wins ‘award’ for thwarting environmental efforts.

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