On the Ground in Paris

December 11, 2015


Six heads of state and government and the leaders of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund call on companies and countries to follow up on their ambitions for Paris by putting a price on carbon. Left to right: OECD Secretary-General Ángel Gurría; Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau; Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto; World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim; French President François Hollande; German Chancellor Angela Merkel; Chilean President Michelle Bachelet; and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.

Max Edkins/World Bank

  • The World Bank Group’s delegation wraps up two weeks on the ground highlighting dozens of events, bilateral meetings and press conferences.
  • COP21 has provided a historic opportunity for the World Bank Group to work with our client countries and partners to forge ahead on the path toward low-carbon, resilient economic development.

As negotiators finalize an agreement at the twenty-first session of the Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris, the World Bank Group’s delegation wraps up two weeks on the ground demonstrating our support for climate action in developing countries around the world. 

Our work was highlighted in dozens of events, bilateral meetings and press conferences, making clear that we are:

Growing our climate work by a third to 28 percent by 2020 in response to client demand, which taken together with other mobilized resources into account, means potentially US$29 billion a year in climate financing in 2020. This will respond to the strong support requested by clients to implement their national plans, the INDCs, and as shown in our recent Shockwaves Report will be critical to ensure that we can meet our mission of reducing extreme poverty and increasing shared prosperity

Pledging along with other multilateral banks to mobilize collective resources to combat climate change: In a joint statement, the heads of the multilateral development banks (MDBs) pledged to “consider climate change across our strategies, programs, and operations to deliver more sustainable results, with a particular focus on the poor and most vulnerable.”  It noted that the six institutions had already delivered US$100 billion for climate action in developing and emerging countries in the four years since starting to track climate finance in 2011. 

Supporting Africa to become climate resilient and low-carbon. The Bank’s new Africa Climate Business Plan was welcomed by African leaders at a key event with Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim on the COP’s opening day. The estimated US$16 billion plan, to be raised by 2020, is expected to be supported by US$5.7 billion from the World Bank’s fund for the poorest the International Development Association, bilateral and multilateral sources, dedicated climate finance, and the private sector. It proposes action in over a dozen areas and includes a new Africa Facility for Climate-Resilient Investment  with support of the African Union and the UN Economic Commission for Africa for better design and planning of infrastructure to withstand a changing climate. 


World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim and Makhtar Diop, Vice President for Africa, present the Africa Climate Business Plan at COP21. They are joined by Jamal Saghir, Ali Bongo Ondimba, Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé, Macky Sall and Patrice Trovoada.

World Bank

Building global support for a price on carbon. The Bank convened French President, François Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet at an event with World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim to call on countries and business to follow their lead and put a price on carbon as a key to combatting climate change and transforming the global economy.

Innovating through carbon finance. Germany, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland announced the Transformative Carbon Asset Facility - a new World Bank-backed US $500 million facility to create incentives for large scale cuts in greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries. It will measure and pay for emission cuts in renewable energy, transport, energy efficiency, solid waste management, and low carbon cities programs, among others.

Supporting the shift to climate-smart cities. In Paris, the mayors of more than 450 cities representing a total of 1 billion people pledged to reduce emissions by more than 50 percent over 15 years. The “State of the City Climate Finance” report was released highlighting the challenges developing countries face to cut city emissions and proposes innovative solutions. The World Bank provides around US$3 billion in urban climate finance and technical assistance each year to help build climate-smart cities.

Connecting the unconnected to low carbon energy solutions. Under the Africa Climate Business Plan, the Bank proposes US$8 billion in new financing for renewable energy by 2024 to help connect people in African cities to the grid and communities in more remote areas to off-grid solar power. More than 600 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa still live without power.

Ending emissions from Gas Flaring. At COP21, the Bank announced that 45 oil companies, governments and others have now endorsed its Zero Routine Gas Flaring by 2030 initiative. Nigeria – one of the largest gas flaring countries in the world – announced that it also intends to join the initiative. The practice of gas flaring from oil productions sites around the world sends around 350m tons of CO2 into the atmosphere each year.

Protecting Forests, Building Resilient Landscapes. Healthy forests and landscapes play a key role in absorbing excess CO2 and providing natural protection for vulnerable communities. At the Global Landscapes Forum, on the sidelines of the COP, the Bank, African Union and World Resources Institute announced the new African Resilient Landscapes Initiative that aims, among other things, to help restore a hundred million hectares of degraded and deforested land by 2030. The Bank proposes to mobilize about US$1.6 billion for forests and resilient landscapes under the Africa Climate Business Plan. In Paris, the Bank also announced its support for the second phase of the Great Green Wall Initiative, which helps countries from Senegal to Ethiopia reverse land degradation for more resilient livelihoods, with an additional US$1.9 billion for projects in the environment and natural resources, agriculture, disaster risk management, social protection, and water sectors. Letters of intent were signed with Mozambique and Madagascar to purchase carbon emissions reductions to support livelihoods in forest areas.

Ensuring low-carbon, resilient transport is part of the solution. Transport represents 23 percent of energy-related CO2 emissions so it is a critical part of the solution to climate change. At COP 21, the Bank joined with the seven other leading multilateral development banks (MDBs) to pledge to increase financial and technical assistance to countries implementing sustainable transport solutions under their national plans, INDCs. The MDBs will increase their focus on low-carbon transport solutions, continue to harmonize tools and metrics to assess transport-related greenhouse gas emissions and work towards building a more systematic approach to mainstreaming climate resilience in transport.

Boosting support to water-stressed countries. Climate change is taking a toll on the world’s water supplies. In Paris, the World Bank warned that in just 35 years, 40 percent of the global population will be living in water scarce countries compared to 28 percent today,  announcing a significant boost for water programs in India, the Niger River Basin, Morocco and Kenya – including a proposed $500 million investment to support India’s $1 billion program to improve management of its groundwater. 

Mobilizing support for better early warning systems. The World Bank is partnering with France and the Global Facility for Disaster Risk Reduction in a new initiative called Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems (CREWS), which seeks to mobilize more than $100 million by 2020. It aims to fill in the gaps around the globe for hydrological and meteorological  services, and bring existing systems to scale – especially in the least developed countries and small island states, where the risk and impact of weather disasters on the poor is highest.

Mobilizing the private sector. The private sector was more visible and active in COP 21 than in any previous climate negotiations. CEOs from industries as far ranging as cement, to technology companies stepped up their efforts to address climate change, making pledges to decrease their carbon footprint, buy more renewable energy and engage in sustainable resource management. Financial institutions pledged to make hundreds of billions of investment over the next 15 years in clean energy and energy efficiency and they called on governments to put in place stable, long term regulatory regimes, including a price on carbon. Working with the World Business Council on Sustainable Development, IFC contributed to the renewable energy Low Carbon Technology Partnership Initiative which set the science based goal of 1,500 gigawatts of extra renewable energy by 2030, pledged to help its members buy more renewable energy and issue green bonds.  IFC also partnered with energy providers including French based Engie to expand access to clean, sustainable energy to those, now living without electricity.  

Action for Climate Empowerment. The World Bank Group’s global partnership program Connect4Climate brought the voices of the young to COP21 with a special preview of the documentary “An Inconvenient Youth,” and the Youth4Climate social media campaign.  The film industry also committed to tackling climate change with Connect4Climate’s announcement of the Film4Climate International Charter.  The initiative will focus on promoting international ‘green’ production guidelines and on further integrating sustainable lifestyle decisions into film narratives.  In Rome, a coalition convened by Connect4Climate presented a gift of contemporary public art entitled “Fiat Lux: Illuminating our Common Home” to Pope Francis on the opening day of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy.  The projection of images from some of the world’s most notable humanistic and nature photographers and filmmakers illuminating St. Peter’s Basilica was broadcast around the world to help raise the profile of the climate negotiations in Paris.   

Harmonizing approaches to greenhouse gas accounting. Twelve international financial institutions (IFIs) – Asian Development Bank, African Development Bank, Agence Française de Développement, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, European Investment Bank, Global Environment Facility, Gulf International Bank, National Investment Bank, Nordic Environment Finance Corporation, Inter American Development Bank, International Finance Corporation, and World Bank  Group– announced in Paris that they are endorsing common approaches to greenhouse gas accounting for their energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.  This will enable the international financial institutions to reduce emissions associated with their own investment portfolios. 

Mainstreaming climate change: And finally, an unprecedented number of the world’s leading financial institutions from across the globe joined the Bank Group and other multilateral development banks in singing onto new principles to integrate climate change into their financing and operations. All together 26 financial institutions from developing and developed countries, with combined balance sheets of more than US$11 trillion signed on to the voluntary Principles to Mainstream Climate Action within Financial Institutions, pledging to integrate climate considerations into their investment and advisory functions.

In short, COP21 has provided a historic opportunity for the World Bank Group to work with our client countries and partners to forge ahead on the path toward low-carbon, resilient economic development.