A coalition of environmental groups has hit out at the World Bank after Greenpeace released figures revealing that between 2007 and 2009 the Bank lent nearly $2.2 billion for fossil fuel projects, compared to just $783 million for renewable energy technologies.
Of the $2.2 billion, nearly half a billion went to finance new coal-fired power stations.
Although the figures lent by the Bank to fossil fuel projects fell significantly in 2009, its three year average has enraged pressure groups. The amount spent on carbon-intensive projects outstrips that spent on renewable energy and energy efficiency combined.
'We demand that the bank immediately stops funding any new fossil fuel investment,' Greenpeace campaigner Tony Sadownichik told reporters at a press conference in Istanbul.
'We are urging the bank to listen to... the people who are going to suffer most from climate change and from being given old world technologies.'
The World Bank hit back, accusing Greenpeace of distorting the evidence and denying power to the less-industrialised world.
Greig Aitken, media coordinator for the Bankwatch Network which was part of the coalition, said:
'We're continuing to see the World Bank's fossil fuel addiction throw a big black cloud over the advances that the Bank is certainly making in renewables and energy efficiency.
'At the Istanbul meeting we've heard Bank president Robert Zoellick talk of developing countries as now 'full partners' in the Bank's lending programmes, yet less than 24 hours later he insists that coal must be part of the developing world’s energy solutions.
'Why is the Bank offering their partners the worst of climate destroying technology rather than the best of environmentally sustainable, climate smart, renewable energy?'
The groups called on the Bank to halt all funding of new fossil fuel projects.
Greenpeace's spreadsheet of World Bank lending figures