Last June President Obama made a pledge to end coal financing abroad as part of an effort to stop climate change. After making the promise, the World Bank, where the US holds the most voting power, also agreed to end financing, and yesterday that pledge went into effect. Now, unless there is no feasible option or the coal investment also includes new carbon-capture measures, dirty coal won’t be getting any money from the US or the World Bank.
According to Treasury secretary for international affairs Lael Brianard, the decision is vital for limiting global warming, which the ICPP encouraged in their report last month. “By encouraging the use of clean energy in multilateral development bank projects, we are furthering US efforts to address the urgent challenges of climate change,” said Brainard.
The move also sets the example for other countries to follow, but it may not have the impact that leaders hope it will have. The World Resources Institute reports that over 75 percent of new proposed coal power is in China, a country paralyzed by bad air quality and India. Neither of these two countries depend on foreign aid for coal investment, though some hope that the US will pressure them to adopt similar standards as part of a global initiative to slow climate change.