Saturday, July 2, 2011

Why Bangladesh doesn't want climate adaptation loans

Rezal Karim Choudhury in the Poverty Matters blog at the Guardian (UK) has a "no! in thunder" for the World Bank: This week in Cape Town, the World Bank will decide whether to approve new climate adaptation loans for five countries. In Bangladesh and around the world, campaigners are resisting these loans and urging their governments not to accept new debt for climate change. More than 50 organisations from countries due to receive the loans recently signed a statement opposing the concept of climate loans, which was initially invented by the UK.

In Bangladesh we have already seen the impacts of climate change, with thousands of lives lost and thousands of people displaced. By pushing climate loans, the UK is making people in countries like mine pay twice for climate change, even though we played virtually no part in causing the problem.

...Offering Bangladesh climate loans through the World Bank is a form of trickery that will push us deeper into poverty, with no means of escape. Loans for climate adaptation are supposed to help countries cope with the worst impacts of global warming. They are not intended to fund income-generating projects, so no new money will be created to repay them.

Yet again, the World Bank has at heart the interests of the small group of countries responsible for climate change, and not those of the world's poor. It has repeatedly failed to consult the people whose lives will be directly affected by its projects, leading to loss of land and livelihoods for millions. The new climate loans programme perpetuates these problems, as Climate Loan Sharks, the report by our allies at the Word Development Movement, makes clear. What's more, the World Bank has a long history of funding fossil fuel projects, having increased its funding 40-fold in the last five years.

The World Bank and its financial allies are already pushing Bangladesh to privatise and commercialise power, water and education, which will leave the poorest people unable to access essential services. If it retains control of climate finance, it will have even more power over our government.

The World Bank cannot be trusted to deliver climate finance. Instead, we need the UK to help us adapt to climate change through democratic and representative institutions, like the UN Adaptation Fund. The UK has so far failed to put a single penny into this fund. And by pouring money into the World Bank's climate investment funds, it is undermining the UN fund...

November 2007 -- Extensive flooding in southern Bangladesh from Cyclone Sidr. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Julius Hawkins

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