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U.N. chief 'encouraged' by development bank climate pledge, urges more

by Reuters
Thursday, 12 November 2020 19:00 GMT

FILE PHOTO: Power-generating windmill turbines and electrical pylons are pictured during sunset at a wind park in Graincourt-les-Havrincourt, France, January 12, 2020. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

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Banks said they will boost investment in clean energy and work towards adopting tougher stance on coal, but stopped short of pledging to phase out backing for fossil fuels

  • Guterres repeats call for fossil fuel phase-out
  • Urges finance ministers to set direction of banks
  • World Bank among those not to sign pledge

By Simon Jessop, Kate Abnett and Matthew Green

- U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Thursday he was "encouraged" by a joint declaration on sustainable finance by the world's development banks, but that more was needed.

The world's 450 public development banks agreed on Wednesday to align their lending with the aims of the Paris climate accord, but Guterres said more money should be spent on climate finance and it needed to happen faster. (Full Story)

He reiterated a call for the banks to phase out lending for fossil fuel projects and also urged ministers of finance to do more to shape the strategic direction of the banks before the next major United Nations climate conference in November 2021.

"I ask all development banks to commit to exit from coal, domestic and abroad, and urgently phase out fossil fuel finance. And call on governments to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, with clear timebound targets and plans," he said.

However, the banks' declaration, published on Thursday, stopped short of a firm commitment to phase out fossil fuel financing, even if some, including a group of European banks, have pledged to do just that. (Full Story)

The declaration was signed by a number of development bank associations, plus multilateral development banks including the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the African Development Bank Group.

Several leading lenders including the World Bank did not sign, although they were listed as having acknowledged the declaration. The World Bank did not immediately reply to a request for comment as to why it did not sign.

NGOs lamented the lack of a firm pledge to quit fossil fuels.

"Without a concrete commitment to end public finance for fossil fuels this summit can’t be considered a success for climate action," said Laurie van der Burg, senior campaigner at non-profit Oil Change International.

(Reporting by Simon Jessop; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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