Text of Letter (PDF)

Washington (February 17, 2023) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Chair of the Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air, Climate and Nuclear Safety, today led his colleagues Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in a letter to the World Bank’s outgoing president David Malpass and its Board of Directors. In their letter, the senators demand the Bank seek new leadership that will take climate action and financing efforts seriously and address the present losses and damages of the climate crisis on nations across the globe.

Senator Markey said, “David Malpass was never fit to be President of the World Bank, and finally he’s heeded our calls to step down. Humanity is facing an existential crisis that will affect not only the health of our communities and planet, but of the global economy – and David Malpass refused to even acknowledge the science behind climate change is real. There’s urgency now to bring new leadership to the World Bank that can make up for the missteps and lost time. The World Bank could be a powerful part of the solution if it bolstered its climate commitments, stopped financing fossil fuels, and provided grants, below-market financing, and debt forgiveness to the countries burdened by climate impacts that have done nothing to cause this crisis. I repeatedly spoke with the Biden Administration about the need to remove David Malpass, and I’ll be urging them now to find a replacement that can actually get the job done.”

“We are alarmed by the lack of support the World Bank provides to developing countries to address climate change,” the senators wrote in their letter to the World Bank’s President David Malpass and its Board of Directors. “Climate change will only exacerbate extreme poverty worldwide—including through crop failures, resource scarcity, and forced migration—and continued investments in fossil fuels contribute to that worsening crisis.”

“The World Bank needs new leadership to enact reforms that will address climate change and provide more financial support to developing countries, which suffer far more from climate change than high-income countries,” the senators continued. “It must halt its financing of fossil fuel projects, increase financing for climate action that is truly green and equitable—especially in the form of grants to climate-vulnerable countries—and improve transparency, including by engaging with stakeholders as it develops and implements climate finance reforms […] The countries that have done the least to cause the climate crisis—many of which are most at risk—should not have to incur even more debt to survive a crisis manufactured by their lenders.”

The senators further called for the World Bank’s leaders to respond to the following questions by March 9, 2023:

  1. Will the World Bank publicly commit to ending financing for all fossil fuel projects, through all financing channels, including indirect methods such as financial intermediaries and policy-based operations? If not, why not, and please include in your response an explanation how continued fossil fuel project financing is consistent with the science on the actions needed to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, and its mission of ending poverty and boosting shared prosperity. If so, what is the Bank’s timeline for ending those projects?
  2. Will the World Bank commit to matching other multilateral development banks in increasing its climate financing commitment to 50 percent of its total lending? If not, why not?
  3. How does the World Bank define “climate action” and “climate finance” in connection with its current target of 35 percent of its funding going to addressing climate change? How does the World Bank identify these projects and ensure that its investments address climate change and align with the Paris climate agreement?
  4. For all projects reported to have climate finance, will the World Bank take steps to increase transparency in how it defines, calculates, and allocates its climate finance, in a manner that allows for independent verifications of its claims? If so, how? If not, why not?
  5. Will the World Bank commit to increasing the amount of climate financing it provides in grant form and increasing debt forgiveness to climate-vulnerable countries? If so, how? If not, why not?
  6. How does the World Bank currently engage with stakeholders on climate change? Does the Bank have any plans to improve or expand that engagement?

Senator Markey has repeatedly called for Malpass to resign, including at last November’s COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. Senator Markey has long led efforts to demand financial institutions take steps to address the climate crisis, including his Fossil Free Finance Act, which would ensure the Federal Reserve requires major banks and other Systemically Important Financial Institutions to reduce and cease financing fossil fuel projects. In a December letter to President Biden, Senator Markey also urged the Administration fulfill its commitment to release a plan for ending the public financing of unabated international fossil fuel projects by the end of 2022.