Alok Sharma, the United Kingdom’s COP26 president, speaks at a press conference. Photo by: Pippa Fowles / No 10 Downing Street / CC BY-NC-ND

Alok Sharma, who is charged with delivering a successful international climate change conference in November on behalf of the U.K. government, wants the World Bank to do more to help lower-income countries transition away from fossil fuels.

“Step up support to countries’ transition away from fossil fuels and create a clear plan to phase out the bank’s support to them,” he said Thursday at the World Bank Spring Meetings. Sharma holds a U.K. Cabinet position as president of COP26 — the 26th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The World Bank should join with other multilateral development banks to “sign a joint statement on nature” at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, he added.

The World Bank’s unveiling of a new climate action plan has been a notable announcement from this year’s meetings. President David Malpass told the bank’s shareholders that 35% of the institution’s lending will have climate cobenefits, half of its climate finance will address climate adaptation, and all of the bank’s operations will be aligned with the Paris Agreement by 2023.

“In this critical year, the year of COP26 and a new Climate Change Action Plan, I urge the World Bank to go further,” Sharma said.

Why now? In November, country representatives will be expected to take more ambitious emission reduction plans to COP26, which was delayed from 2020. Later this month, U.S. President Joe Biden is bringing together 40 world leaders for a virtual summit on climate change to encourage more aggressive action and more financing.

The World Bank under pressure: The COVID-19 pandemic has raised the stakes for climate action. The United Kingdom’s leadership of COP26, combined with Biden’s election victory last year, means that two of the World Bank’s largest shareholders are now pushing the institution to play a pivotal role in ensuring that economic recovery from the pandemic also advances climate goals.

About the author

  • Michael Igoe

    Michael Igoe is a Senior Reporter with Devex, based in Washington, D.C. He covers U.S. foreign aid, global health, climate change, and development finance. Prior to joining Devex, Michael researched water management and climate change adaptation in post-Soviet Central Asia, where he also wrote for EurasiaNet. Michael earned his bachelor's degree from Bowdoin College, where he majored in Russian, and his master’s degree from the University of Montana, where he studied international conservation and development.