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World Bank commits to annual reports on climate action plan

06/22/2021 | 02:00pm EDT

WASHINGTON, June 22 (Reuters) - The World Bank on Tuesday agreed to boost the amount of money it spends to tackle climate change to 35% from a previous target of 28% and to release annual progress reports after its draft climate change action plan came under fire for lack of a clear implementation strategy.

The global development bank said it would also provide a roadmap to show how it will help developing countries meet their Paris climate accord targets.

"This is really transformational in the way we do business," Genevieve Connors, who oversees tracking and reporting of climate finance for the World Bank, told Reuters. "One of the central differences of this (climate change action plan) is that we as the World Bank Group have now elevated climate to be central to everything that we do."

The World Bank released some details of its plan in April, saying it would help developing countries reduce greenhouse gas emissions by aiding the transition out of coal.

It will increase the amount it dedicates to climate finance, which has totaled $83 billion over the past five years, peaking at $21.4 billion in 2020.

Environmental campaigners had raised concerns that the World Bank's draft plan lacked specifics about how it would align policies with the goals of the Paris agreement and about the bank's hesitation to shift away from natural gas investments despite committing to transition away from coal.

Connors said the bank would assess gas investments on a case-by-case basis and that gas projects would face high thresholds to win funding.

In some cases, it makes sense to proceed with gas projects, Connors said, adding that there was no firm deadline for halting all such investments.

"It's a moving target," she said. "We see it as a journey towards decarbonisation ... but our countries are all on different pathways and there always may be extenuating circumstances in which a particular natural gas project may make sense. But the hurdles are high, and proof needs to be shown."

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal in Washington; additional reporting by Kate Abnett in Brussels; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)


ę Reuters 2021
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