The bank has produced a draft document seen by Reuters and Bloomberg News that reportedly proposes restricting coal-focused financing to situations where there are no other alternatives.
"The World Bank Group will help clients identify alternatives to coal power as they make transitions toward sustainable energy," the report said.
The bank “will cease providing financial support for greenfield coal power generation projects, except in rare circumstances where there are no feasible alternatives available to meet basic energy needs and other sources of financing are absent”
A draft of the 39-page strategy, titled “Toward a Sustainable Energy Future for All: Directions for the World Bank Group’s Energy Sector”, is set to be circulated to all World Bank board members in advance of a July 19 meeting.
The World Bank comprises two institutions managed by 188 member countries which together aim to reduce global poverty through international investment.
The bank’s draft paper describes universal energy as a priority in its mission to help end poverty, according to Bloomberg.
According to the bank’s website, this year it approved energy projects in Liberia, Turkey and China – none of which involve coal.
The draft document was cited by the news sources a day after Obama unveiled his climate action plan which, among other things, signaled a renewed US focus on carbon emissions from coal-fired power.
It called for multilateral banks to join the US and stop investing in overseas coal projects.
The US is the Washington-headquartered bank’s largest shareholder.
World Bank spokesman Frederick Jones told Reuters it sought to double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix and double the rate of improvement of energy efficiency.
“The World Bank Group's energy work is aligned with our twin goals of ending extreme poverty and promoting shared prosperity and the objectives of sustainable energy for all," Jones said in a statement.
The draft plan acknowledged that “each country’s transition to a sustainable energy sector involves a unique mix of resource opportunities and challenges”, and pledged to make every effort to minimize the costs of expanding “reliable energy supply”