The leaders of the World Bank Group, the International Monetary Fund, and the United Nations sat down with finance ministers this afternoon to talk about climate change – the challenges the ministers see inside their own countries, the practical solutions they’re already putting in place, and the support they need.
There was no debate about the science. Finance and deputy finance ministers for the world’s largest greenhouse emitters and some of the largest and smallest countries focused instead on the practical fiscal policy tools and measures that they can use, such as private sector regulation, public procurement rules, and setting efficiency standards for vehicles and buildings.
They want to move forward in a low-carbon way while focusing on jobs, growth, and competitiveness. Some shared their experiences moving quickly to put a price on carbon through markets or taxes. Others are working on ways to increase necessary private sector finance or how to gradually phase out fossil fuel subsidies.
The semiannual ministerial, part of the IMF/World Bank Group Spring and Annual Meetings, reflected how climate action has moved from an environmental issue to a mainstream, financial concern for countries worldwide.
“Each time we do this, it kicks up a level,” said World Bank Group Vice President and Special Envoy for Climate Change Rachel Kyte, who attended the meeting. She said IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde’s matter-of-fact approach had a powerful impact on the ministers.
The meeting was one step on the road to an international climate agreement at the UNFCCC Conference of Parties in Paris in 2015. The next large gathering will be the UN Climate Summit in September, followed by UNFCCC Conference of Parties in Lima in December. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told reporters before the meeting that he had two directions for the September summit: Raise political will and catalyze action. “I urge the political leaders of the world to prioritize their resources and their political energy on climate change,” he said.
“We are here all together because we know that the world needs to fight climate change with much, much greater seriousness,” World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim told reporters before the meeting. He urged governments to take on the issue of carbon pricing as they develop solutions equal to the challenges created by climate change.
“Taking action now will not only solve the problems of protecting the planet, but it will be a tremendous boost for economies,” Kim said.