Updated: March 2, 2021
Many people in Africa and around the world do not know his name yet. The new President of the World Bank appointed by President Donald Trump last week is.
His appointment just weeks after cyclone Idai killed almost 600 people in three African nations and left a trail of devastation in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi seemed to make it clear that climate change was real and needed a global response.
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After Mr Trump appointed him, there were fears that the fight against climate change was almost dead, especially because President Trump and many in his administration do not in climate change or its obvious negative effects on the planet.
However, on his first day at work in Washington D.C. on Tuesday, Mr Malpass said helping developing countries cope with global warming would remain central to the bank’s mission.
And despite President Trump’s strong support for US coal producers, Malpass said there would be no change in the bank’s refusal to lend for new coal-fired power plants.
“Climate change is a key problem facing people,” Malpass said. “It presents specific problems and we are addressing them through adaptation and through meeting our climate change action plan. My expectation is that the bank continues the direction it has been pursuing in terms of those goals.”
The World Bank had warned that failure to increase lending in poor countries vulnerable to global warming risks pushing an additional 100 million people into poverty by 2030.
Asked at a press briefing about his views on the bank’s anti-coal policy, Malpass said: “The World Bank board and the governors have established a policy on that. I don’t expect a change in that policy.”
He added: “The mission of the bank is urgent. There are 700 million people living in extreme poverty and that’s 700 million too many. I want to continue with the mission to alleviate and eliminate extreme poverty and the mission of shared prosperity.”
From his first pronouncements, Mr Malpass appears to have positioned himself as an ally for Africa to fight climate change and its devastating effects as well as widespread poverty.