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World Bank to stop funding oil and gas exploration

Written By: - Date published: 6:15 am, December 14th, 2017 - 29 comments
Categories: climate change, disaster, energy, Environment, Mining, peak oil, sustainability - Tags: ,


Oil Change International Press Release

At One Planet Summit, the World Bank steals the show by phasing out upstream oil and gas finance

PARIS, FRANCE — At the One Planet Summit in Paris, France, the World Bank announced, among other positive steps, that they “will no longer finance upstream oil and gas, after 2019.”

In response to the announcement, Oil Change International released the following statements:

Stephen Kretzmann, Executive Director of Oil Change International, said, “It is hard to overstate the significance of this historic announcement by the World Bank. Environmental, human rights, and development campaigners have been amplifying the voices of frontline communities for decades in calling for an end to World Bank financing of upstream oil and gas projects. Today the World Bank has raised the bar for climate leadership by recognizing the simple yet inconvenient truth that achieving the Paris Agreement’s climate goals requires an end to the expansion of the fossil fuel industry. We congratulate the World Bank, and we look forward to working with them and other partners towards a managed decline of fossil fuel production, and a just, equitable transition to a global clean energy economy. It is time for all of the institutions, countries, investors and individuals who are still in the Paris Agreement to stop funding fossils – once and for all.”

Alex Doukas, Stop Funding Fossils Program Director at Oil Change International, said, “This commitment from the World Bank demonstrates true climate leadership. This sends a clear signal to the world that the fossil fuel era is ending, and that government money can no longer be used to prop up oil, gas, and coal production. Given what we know about the climate crisis, ending fossil fuel finance is simply the rational and moral thing to do. Other finance institutions must now follow the World Bank’s lead and move to stop funding fossils. It is important to note that midstream and downstream oil and gas finance are also major contributors to climate change, and must be addressed to remain within the climate limits established by the Paris Agreement.”


  • Despite their climate commitments, many governments and institutions in attendance continue to finance fossil fuels. Public finance institutions controlled by G20 governments, along with multilateral development banks, provided $71.8 billion per year on average in public finance for fossil fuels, and only $18.7 billion on average for clean energy between 2013-2015.
  • The World Bank Group already has a policy in place that restricts support for coal-fired power plants and for thermal coal mining. With the addition of upstream oil and gas to thermal coal mining, this commitment means that the World Bank will no longer finance fossil fuel extraction after 2019, except in extreme cases.
  • According to Oil Change International’s Shift the Subsidies Database, the World Bank Group provided an average of over $1 billion per year in upstream oil and gas finance (for the three years from FY2014 through FY2016).
  • Just prior to the One Planet Summit, over 200 civil society groups demanded a commitment to phase out subsidies and public finance for fossil fuels as soon as possible and no later than 2020, except in extreme cases where there is clearly no other viable option for increasing energy access to the poor.
  • A briefing titled “Dirty Dozen,” released by the Big Shift Global campaign the day before the summit, highlights some examples of the types of destructive fossil fuel projects that public finance continues to prop up.


From the Guardian:

World Bank to end financial support for oil and gas exploration

Bank announces in Paris it ‘will no longer finance upstream oil and gas’ after 2019 in response to threat posed by climate change.

The Bank ceased lending for coal-fired power stations in 2010 but has been under pressure from lobby groups also to halt the $1bn (£750m) a year it has been lending for oil and gas in developing countries.

The Bank said it saw the need to change the way it was operating in a “rapidly changing world”, adding that it was on course to have 28% of its lending going to climate action by 2020. At present, 1-2% of the Bank’s $280bn portfolio is accounted for by oil and gas projects.

In exceptional circumstances, the Bank said it would consider lending for oil and gas projects in the very poorest countries but only where it helped the poor get access to energy and the project did not conflict with commitments to reduce greenhouse gases made in the 2015 Paris climate change accord.

The Greenpeace International climate campaigner Gyorgy Dallos said: “The end is clearly coming for the oil and gas industry as the pace of change accelerates.”

Dallos said the Bank had sent a damning vote of no confidence in the future of the fossil fuel industry. “The world’s financial institutions now need to take note and decide whether their financing is going to be part of the problem or the solution,” he said.

29 comments on “World Bank to stop funding oil and gas exploration”

  1. Bill 1

    Still a ways to go then 🙁

    $1 Billion from the $71.8 Billion cited in the post’s link to “Priceofoil.org” sounds like something- even if it does only amount to something not much over 1%.

    But when that $71.8 Billion figure is stacked against an IMF figure of $5.3 Trillion for 2015 that was up from $4.9 Trillion for 2013….

    • adam 1.1

      Here was me thinking it was fake news, and bugger me, you look at the figures, and it is fake news.

      • Bill 1.1.1

        Optimistically misleading? 😉

        Anyway. A further thought that crossed my mind is that the WB is basically in the business of lending to governments. And that governments the WB lends to probably aren’t that heavily (ie – directly) involved in the fossil fuel industry.

        If they’d said they were killing all lending etc as from mid-night tonight And if that had come alongside a statement from the G20 that that they were going to fund Annex 2 countries to the tune of some trillions (not the paltry 100 million Paris threw up) and announced that in tandem with debt forgiveness for the global south (annex 2)….then yeah.

        There might have been reason to say that something genuinely positive and meaningful was on the table.

        But $1 billion being cut in two years time when the yearly increase to subsidies sits around the $500 billion mark is a bit underwhelming.

      • weka 1.1.2

        Are you saying that the announcement is lying about the WB stopping subsidies for upstream oil/gas? Sorry, not following the argument here.

        • adam

          It’s a feel good story without much substance.

          In that, if you look at the money and whose funding what – it’s a very nice smoke screen. Like Bill said, it’s a less than 1% drop in investment.

          So I’m not willing to break out the party supplies just yet.

          • marty mars

            1.4% by the figures bill gave and my rough calculation – how did you get less than 1%?

          • weka

            So the World Bank *is stopping funding, but you think it’s without substance because it’s not other lenders as well? This is essentially the same argument about why should NZ drop its emissions when it’s such a small country. So by your argument, NZ addressing its emissions is without substance because the US isn’t. That’s daft af.

            Can’t believe I am having to point this out, but the value in the WB doing this is that (a) it sends a strong signal to the organisations and countries within its remit (b) it supports defunding from oil in general (c) it’s part of a whole movement around CC and putting an end to the industry (d) we need the WB to stop along with everyone else.

            We’re approaching a tipping point around divestment. This is good news.

            • Bill

              An ~ $500 billion year on year increase in subsidy equals “approaching a tipping point”?

              One org that (it seems) was barely involved in fossil has said that in two years time it will only fund downstream fossil ventures is “sending a signal”?

              The reason I say “barely involved” is that if all its upstream support added up to $1 billion, it’s nothing in the scheme of things. It’s a small player.

              There is the “brand” recognition, and that is perhaps worth something in the scheme of things. Unfortunately, I imagine that “brand recognition” will be used to sell the idea that something substantial is being done.

              Most people won’t look at the figures and numbers, and will also miss the fact that they are not saying that they will stop lending/funding for fossil. (ie – that they only say they are curtailing upstream funding)

              It’s spin.

      • marty mars 1.1.3

        I dont think you know what fake news is adam if you think this is it. Try wiki.

        • adam

          I think fake news is news generated for corporate propaganda purposes, what do you think it is marty mars?

          • marty mars

            And political purposes too – what is the fake news bit from this story? Seems straight to me or is 1.4% reduction, based on bills figures, not a reduction? Sure it’s not enough but it’s not fake, is it?

          • weka

            Fake news would be if there was no value in what they were doing and they were spinning it as something it’s not. I can’t see either of those things happening here, but maybe you can make an actual argument here?

      • Bill 1.1.4

        Here’s some unspun truth.

        Running in tandem with that World Bank announcement (same summit) we have (drum roll) the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures.

        Under the plan, companies pledge to use their financial reports to disclose their direct and indirect exposure to global warming under a range of different scenarios.


        “Markets need the right information to seize the opportunities and mitigate the risks that are being created by the transition to a low-carbon economy,” Carney said. “This solution, of the market and for the market, is truly entering the mainstream.”

        And the risks are?

        …a repeat of the 2008 banking crisis.

    • The imf figure is available subsidies isn’t it? How does that relate to the story of the stopping of funding by the world bank?

      • Bill 1.2.1

        The IMF figure is a calculation of total subsidies. (It’s explained in the link I provided).

        $1 Billion amounts to less than half the amount that NZ subsidises fossil in a year.

        The $71.8 Billion is direct finance and isn’t my figure. It’s the figure provided, in part by the WWF. They are a source I’d be taking with a pinch of salt given that it’s widely accepted they push pro-corporate agendas. (Google WWF controversy for more if you’re interested in the details)

        The WB is redirecting or ending its funding. (Though not, it seems for downstream operations or projects) Good. But perspective and context matters. (To me anyway)

        $1 billion as a percentage of $5.3 trillion is …well, not a lot at all.

        • marty mars

          So direct finance does not relate to total subsidies. Apart from the financials for the deals which considers both.

          1 billion isn’t a lot compared to a billion trillion million either but it is a lot compared to zero. 1 billion is now zero according to how I understood the information in the post.

        • weka

          “But perspective and context matters. (To me anyway)”

          Me too, but so does supporting change. Hence “the WB is stopping funding, great, and we need others to follow suit and here’s what we need to do next”, vs “the WB is stopping funding, whoopdeshit, drop in the bucket, it’s all propaganda”. The former will engage people and get them to change, the latter is bah humbug. Not saying that is you, but that the general tenor of this subthread comes across like that.

          • Bill

            Your dichotomy isn’t useful by my way of thinking.

            False hope and/or baseless optimism is poison in my book.

            How many people could read about that WB funding and think things were moving forwards and then disengage or not engage because (they believe) “it’s all being taken care of”?

            What does 1 Billion buy these days? An oil distillery? (I don’t know)

            And if they are still investing or loaning for downstream projects – and I assume they are since they specifically mention ‘up-stream’ – then is it even any kind of disinvestment at all? (I don’t know that either, but the question, surely, ought to be asked)

            edit – I know a distillery is ‘down stream”, but just trying to get a perspective on money to “kit”.

  2. Good move that will send the correct message. Hopefully all the dirty exploitation plans around and on/within our south sea islands will now be stopped FOR GOOD.

  3. Koff 3

    An opportunity for our coalition govt to show some leadership here on cc action and complement the WB initiative. A good start would be to send the “Beast” (Statoil sonar research vessel) packing from Taranaki and stop the open cast mine from going ahead on the SI West Coast. Very little noise on agreed environmental policy yet from the new govt, but maybe got their hands full at the mo.

  4. cleangreen 4

    As a result of this climate change article and others seen recently, we sent our letter to all ministers in Government today. 14/12/17.

    TO; Ministers,

    At the ‘One Planet Climate Change Summit’ this week in Paris 12-15th December 2017.

    NZ is cited as investors in our ‘Superfund’ among big investors pressuring climate polluters.

    NZ Government must now use Rail freight as it will greatly reduce our use and dependence on fossil fuels that cause climate change, and will save our cost of paying for “carbon credits” also.


    1. Environment
    ‘Arctic climate ‘report card’ reveals ‘rapid and dramatic changes’ to the polar environment.’
    The latest warnings on this link above must be taken seriously now as time is short for saving our planet.

    Please respond to our request for press coverage as government is close to shutting down for two months shortly please.
    Warmest regards,

    Radio New Zealand

    13 Dec 2017
    NZ Super among big investors pressuring climate polluters
    7:06 am on 13 December 2017

    Anusha Bradley, Journalist
    @AnushaBradley anusha.bradley@radionz.co.nz
    The New Zealand Superannuation Fund is among a group of powerful investors putting pressure on the world’s biggest polluters to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

    Campaigners in Paris urge companies at the summit to phase out fossil fuels. Photo: AFP

    The global campaign, dubbed Climate Action 100 plus, was launched at the One Planet Summit in Paris marking two years since the signing of the Paris Climate Agreement.

    The summit brings together 225 of the world’s largest institutional investors which have more than $US26 trillion invested in 100 of the world’s largest emitters.

    They include ExxonMobil, General Electric, and Rio Tinto.

    Investor Group on Climate Change chief executive Emma Herd said investors were trying to force these companies to clean up their act by engaging with them.

    Abridged – RNZ / Reuters

  5. Maybe if the World bank stopped promoting Debt we could see a real change.
    Any country trying to service those debts is hardly going to turn away oil and gas or any other exploitative industry..all this means is they will now have to set up without World bank backing…though if they do cut these ties I am curious how these countries are going to pay debt without this income flow, though I’m sure the free market neo liberals have some excellent ideas…

    “According to World Bank data, in 2010 alone, developing countries paid out $184 billion on debt service, about three times the annual resources required for the fulfillment of the MDGs. Even more troublesome, between 1985 and 2010 net public debt flows to developing countries, that is the difference between debt inflows and debt payments, have reached -$530 billion |4|. To place this number in context, this is the equivalent of five Marshall Plans.”



  6. eco maori 6

    Many thanks to the World Bank for sending a clear message to the rest of the World that fossils fuel is going to be a fuel of the past.
    To Dywayne Douglas Johnson The Rock I say go for it someone needs to clean that up and I think your the man for the job it will be a major challenge but I’m sure you will achieve your goals. Kai kaha

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