“Coal plays a vital role in both global electricity supply and as an input into essential products such as steel, aluminium, cement, glass – the list goes on,” WCA chief executive Milton Catelin said.
“The World Bank president Jim Yong Kim stated that ‘we need affordable energy to help end poverty and to build shared prosperity’ but clearly thinks this is achievable without coal.”
In its energy sector directions paper the bank said it would only finance coal-fired power plants in “rare circumstances”, in a move echoing US President Barack Obama’s policy to curb climate change.
The bank said an example of rare circumstances was when it needed to “meet basic energy needs in countries with no feasible alternatives”, endeavoring to opt for gas over coal wherever possible.
Catelin says the paper clearly demonstrates the global challenge of providing electricity to the more than 1.2 billion people that live without it but choosing to limit access to coal is not the right way to solve the problem.
“Coal has been vital to global development – almost half of this century’s incremental energy has come from coal alone,” he said.
“If coal-fuelled China were taken out of the equation, the number of the world’s poor has actually risen since the 1980s.
“Virtually all of the world’s poverty reduction between 1981 and 2008 took place in China.
“No other poverty alleviation strategy in modern history has been more effective than the one implemented by China and driven by an economy fuelled at over 70% by coal.”
Catelin called on the World Bank to stand by its commitment to reduce poverty and support development by providing developing communities with the full choice of energy sources.
“Coal can provide affordable, reliable energy to countries in vital need of energy. And this can be done in a way that is compatible with sustainable development goals,” he said.
“The International Energy Agency has shown that if new coal-fired generating capacity added between 2000 and 2011 had used best available technology, cumulative emissions of CO2 over that period would have been reduced by almost 2 gigatonnes.
“This is three times the expected effect of the Kyoto Protocol.
“The World Bank should be working to ensure that rather than simply avoiding coal projects, they allow countries to utilize all energy sources available to them and provide financing to ensure that the most efficient, cleanest technologies are utilized.
“This strategy would include coal, not in ‘rare circumstances’ but where it’s needed and can lift people out of energy poverty.
“When billions of people do not have access to modern energy services, we should not be cutting off energy supplies.”