U.S. Faith-Based Coalition Petitions World Bank to Take Climate Action, End Fossil Fuel Support

April 1, 2021

Washington, D.C. – A coalition of faith-based organizations in the United States today delivered a petition calling on the World Bank to immediately halt its continued subsidization of fossil fuels.The call comes ahead of tomorrow’s meeting of the World Bank’s executive directors, in which they will discuss the organization’s Climate Change Action Plan. Today’s petition was organized and delivered as part of the Big Shift campaign, a global effort demanding the Bank to prioritize investment in renewable energy in the time of COVID-19 and beyond.

“It is incontrovertible that climate change, caused by human activity, is coming from the burning of fossil fuels. It causes droughts, floods, impacts agricultural seasons, creates new pests and crop diseases, and leads to costly extreme weather events. Alarmingly, these types of events have now overtaken conflict as the primary cause for the displacement of people—which totaled 16 million newly displaced persons in 2019 alone,” said Jasmine Huggins, Senior Policy and Advocacy Officer at Church World Service. “The World Bank has the mandate, the funds, the power and authority to significantly address this climate emergency. As it now prepares its 5-year action Climate Change Action Plan we call on it to demonstrate their commitment to tackling the crisis by ending all investments in fossil fuels.”

“Scientists are clear that we need much bolder and urgent climate actions, and within a much tighter timeline, than was clear in 2015 when the Paris agreement was signed. That demands much greater engagement and accountability by governments and financial institutions around the world,” said Marianne Comfort, justice coordinator, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas. “The World Bank has the opportunity and moral responsibility to lead the way by phasing out fossil fuel investments and improving access to energy through small-scale renewable energy sources. Our sisters who have lived through devastating storms in the Philippines and Honduras; flooding in the United States and Peru; and sea-level rise in the Caribbean and Guam are crying out for such leadership.”

The World Bank continues to subsidize fossil fuels, which fans the flames of the ongoing climate emergency, despite scientific evidence showing the impact of continued investment and usage of such fuels. Both climate change and COVID-19 fall hardest on the poorest and most vulnerable communities and nations who are at greatest risk because of pre-existing health, gender, racial, ethnic and economic inequities. Additionally, 840 million people still live without having access to the energy needed to improve their economic and developmental outcomes and respond to COVID-19. 

The coalition behind today’s petition includes the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, Center for Earth Ethics, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas’ Justice Team, and Church World Service, all of whom support the work of the global Big Shift initiative, a network of civil society groups representing 112 partner organizations. 

The petition comes in the form of a letter, which addresses the current situation and calls for immediate action. The group specifically called on President Malpass to:

  • Phase out lending for all fossil fuels after 2020, including coal and natural gas
  • Develop a clear strategy to improve access to energy through small scale renewable energy sources

For more information about Big Shift and the efforts to encourage the World Bank to support renewable energy in the time of COVID-19, contact media@cwsglobal.org.