World Bank chief says he will continue to focus ‘intensely’ on tackling climate change

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By David Lawder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – World Bank President David Malpass said on Friday he remained “intensely” focused on the bank’s efforts to tackle climate change and accepted the U.S. Treasury’s call to dramatically increase lending capacity to address this and other global issues.

Two weeks after Malpass was criticized for refusing to say whether he accepted the scientific consensus on global warming, he told reporters that there was very strong support from the World Bank board, the staff and the US government for the climate initiatives of the lender he led.

Asked if he expected to complete his five-year term despite some US Democratic lawmakers urging President Joe Biden to seek his replacement, Malpass said: “The World Bank staff and people are very focused on finding solutions to problems in the world, including climate challenges. One of my goals is for that focus to be very strong and intense.”

He said there were a lot of climate tasks “that we’re in the middle of this, it’s really important to keep moving forward and finishing.”

Malpass, a former US Treasury official, was appointed by then-President Donald Trump in 2019 for a five-year term ending in April 2024. The US is the World Bank’s largest shareholder , which has been run by an American since it began operations in 1946.

His comments to reporters came on the eve of annual meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, where the climate, fallout from war in Ukraine, inflation pressures, over-indebtedness and food insecurity will be among the main topics.

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Thursday urged the World Bank and other multilateral development lenders to revamp their business models and dramatically increase lending to meet urgent global needs, with climate change and the transition to a clean energy tops the list.

She said the World Bank should produce an “evolutionary roadmap” by December to address these challenges.

Malpass said he fully supports Yellen’s directive and the bank is already working with shareholders to expand its resources to boost lending in the face of “a series of major crises”.

“She brings up some very good points about the need for international financial institutions to evolve in the face of a crisis and also in the face of many changes going on in the world, so we accept that,” Malpass said.

(Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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