The US position on multilateral development bank finance for fossil fuels is “pro-poor” and “pro US jobs”

With a chronic lack of affordable, reliable energy one of the biggest obstacles to tackling poverty in the developing world, experts have come out in support of the US announcement to call for an end to World Bank restrictions on finance for new fossil fuel projects in the poorest countries.

Dan Runde of the Center for International and Strategic Studies (CISS), a Washington-based think tank specialising in international development, called the US position a “pro-poor” and “pro-US jobs”.

Africa is home to 16 percent of the global population but only produces 3 percent of the world’s electricity. 140 years since Edison invented the lightbulb, two in three people living in sub-Saharan Africa still have no access to the grid.

Yet despite the scale of the problem, international development institutions like the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank continue to impose severe restrictions on funding for fossil fuel power in the poorest countries.

According to Runde this could be about to change. He says that developing countries are determined to use their natural resources, “just as the US and other rich countries do”, and that there is significant international support for financing new fossil fuel projects.

“If Japan and the U.S. plus poor countries encourage this policy at the board level, it will happen,” he added.