World Bank President David Malpass has been accused of being a “climate denier” after refusing to answer whether he believed human-made emissions contributed to global warming.
Washington (AFP) – Climate groups called Wednesday for the World Bank chief to be fired after he repeatedly refused to say whether he believed human-caused emissions were contributing to global warming.
Activists have previously called for David Malpass to resign or be fired over what they say is an inappropriate approach to the climate crisis.
The head of the World Bank is traditionally American while the other large World Bank in Washington, the International Monetary Fund, tends to be European. Malpass is a veteran of Republican administrations in the United States and was appointed in 2019 while Donald Trump, who has repeatedly denied the science behind climate change, was president.
The chorus rose against Malpass after his appearance Tuesday at the New York Times Conference on Climate Finance.
Asked by a reporter to respond to former US Vice President Al Gore’s claim that he was a climate denier, Malpass said some of his critics “may not know what the World Bank is doing.” He has boasted that his climate finance is “by far the largest” among international financial institutions.
After another attempt to get a direct answer failed, journalist David Gillis said, “Let me be as clear as I can: Do you accept the scientific consensus that man made burning fossil fuels rapidly and dangerously warming the planet?”
Malpass once again referred to the World Bank’s work on the issue, at which point many of the audience shouted, “Answer the question!”
“I don’t even know,” Malpass replied visibly disappointed.
The Big Shift, a consortium of climate groups, called on the World Bank’s board on
Wednesday to remove Malpass over the comments.
“For the World Bank to maintain an iota of decency, Malpass cannot remain president,” said Tasnim Esop, executive director of the Climate Action Network, a group that is a member of Big Shift.
A separate group of activist organizations said on Thursday they would unveil a banner at the World Bank headquarters in Washington that reads: “The World Bank Group is run by a climate denier.”
Malpass’s term ends in 2024 and he can only be impeached by a vote of the World Bank’s board of directors.
Climate groups have called on President Joe Biden to increase external pressure.
Biden’s envoy on climate change, former US Secretary of State John Kerry, during an appearance at the same Times event declined to comment on Malpass’s future, saying “that’s the president’s decision.”
The World Bank declined to comment on the situation when it was reached