Thursday, March 13, 2008

Should the World Bank be funding a polluting power plant in India?

David Wheeler (a top environmental/development economist) examines the case of the World Bank funding a coal fired power station in India.

This article makes for interesting reading all the more so because David Wheeler is so closely linked to the World Bank.

DAVID R. WHEELER is Lead Economist in the Infrastructure/Environment team of the World Bank's Development Research Group.

Tata Ultra Mega Mistake: The IFC Should Not Get Burned by Coal

During the last week of March, the Board of the World Bank Group's International Finance Corporation (IFC) will consider the proposed Tata Ultra Mega project, which will construct a huge (4,000 MW) coal-fired power plant at Mundra in India's Gujarat State. According to the IFC's own estimate, this plant will emit 25.7 million tons of CO2 per year for at least 25 years, adding another 643 million tons to an atmospheric carbon load that is already driving us toward an environmental catastrophe.

Professor Wheeler then goes on to debunk a series of World Bank claims and then concludes:

In short, IFC's proposed Tata Ultra Mega project is obsolete, unnecessary, ultra-dangerous for the planet, and mega-dangerous for the environmental reputations of the IFC and the World Bank Group. Does anyone really believe that donor-country taxpayers will continue supporting the Bank Group if it takes billions for the Clean Technology Fund with one hand and invests billions in coal-fired monsters with the other? Let's get serious here. The IFC's Board should take Ban Ki-Moon’s Bali declaration of a planetary emergency seriously, vote no on Tata Ultra Mega, leave coal-fired power behind, and commit to renewable power. They will find a willing partner in the Indian Government, which has already begun piloting solar thermal power and would undoubtedly welcome a big push on renewables.

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