FEATURE STORY

Heads of World Bank, IMF & UN Discuss Climate Risks & Policies with Finance Ministers

April 11, 2014

The leaders of the World Bank, the IMF and the United Nations urged finance ministers around the world to tackle the issue of climate change to boost their economies and protect the planet.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Twice a year, the leaders of the World Bank Group and the IMF bring finance ministers together to discuss the economic risks of climate change and the opportunities for action.
  • At this year's Spring Meetings ministerial, the focus was on practical fiscal policy solutions, with ministers sharing their own experiences, advice, and ideas.
  • They discussed carbon pricing, as well as policy tools and measures such as private sector regulation, public procurement rules, and setting efficiency standards for vehicles and buildings.

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.

Open Quotes

Taking action now will not only solve the problems of protecting the planet, but it will be a tremendous boost for economies. Close Quotes

Jim Yong Kim
World Bank Group President

The press statements made by President Kim and Secretary-General Ban follow.

World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim

"We are here all together because we know that the world needs to fight climate change with much, much greater seriousness. Forty ministers will be here today to discuss the issue of climate change.

"Taking action now will not only solve the problems of protecting the planet, but it will be a tremendous boost for economies. We know that climate change will threaten economic growth, especially in the poorest countries, but everywhere, as well.

"We are tackling some of the most difficult issues. Despite the fact that it is controversial, we have got to tackle the issue of carbon pricing. Some countries are working very hard on this; others know that it is a direction that we have to go.

"It is 165 days before the climate summit that the secretary-general has called. We have to get serious about bringing real commitments to the table for that summit in September. That will set us up for COP20 in Lima, Peru. And then, we hope that it will lead to a very different outcome in Paris in 2015, where we will come up with some very serious agreements that we can all take to protecting the planet and battling climate change." 

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

"While the United Nations addresses many crises – starting from Syria to Ukraine, South Sudan to the Central African Republic - you must know that this is a very critical moment for development; a critical moment for humanity.

"The United Nations is working very hard to accelerate the Millennium Development Goals as the 2015 deadline is approaching fast. We are also working very hard to define the Post-2015 development agenda; sustainable development. At the same time we must have a global legal climate change agreement by the end of next year, 2015.

"This climate change is a defining issue of our time, and an existential threat to our life and development.

"We have to address this issue immediately.

"The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in its most recent report, has made it quite clear that climate change is happening and approaching much, much faster than one may expect.

"The United Nations, the World Bank and the IMF have worked together to address this issue with the full support and engagement of the United Nations Member States.

"That is why I am going to convene a summit meeting on climate change on September 23rd.

"We have two basic purposes: one is to raise political will. I urge the political leaders of the world to prioritize their resources and their political energy on climate change. Second: catalyze actions on the ground.

"I am inviting all the leaders, business leaders and civil society leaders to address these issues.

"I am very grateful to the leaders of the Bretton Woods institutions – World Bank President, Dr. Kim, as well as IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde – for their very strong engagement and leadership working together with the United Nations for humanity. And I count on your continued leadership. Thank you very much."