The director of the World Bank, American David Malpass, has put himself in serious trouble for what he said at a meeting in New York on international climate policy. Or actually because of what he didn’t want to say.

    During an interview at an event with David Gelles, a journalist from The New York Times, Malpass defended the World Bank’s climate policy. According to critics, the World Bank takes far too little account of the consequences of climate change in the projects it finances. A day before the interview, former US Vice President Al Gore even argued for the departure of Malpass. “It’s absurd,” Gore said, “that the World Bank is run by a climate denier.”

    Gelles asked Malpass what he thought of Gore’s criticism. Instead of answering, the World Bank director said that, strangely enough, he had never met Al Gore. Gelles put it more emphatically: do you agree with the consensus among climate scientists that the planet is warming rapidly and dangerously due to the use of fossil fuels?

    This time, Malpass dodged the question by listing his organization’s many climate projects. Gelles again: “Any answer to the question?” Malpass: “We have a powerful mission at the World Bank.” Gelles: “Any answer to the question?” Malpass: “I don’t know — I’m not a scientist.”

    Nominated by Trump

    It is a response that climate deniers often give when they do not want to say that they do not ‘believe’ in climate change. Environmental groups are now massively demanding Malpass’s departure. But the main question is how he could become CEO of an organization that writes on its website: “climate change, poverty and inequality are the overriding themes of our time”.

    Malpass, as usual for the top position at the World Bank, was nominated by the US president (Europe traditionally supplies the director of the International Monetary Fund). That was Donald Trump at the time, and he explicitly looked for people who deny climate change for all positions related to global warming. Malpass was Under Secretary of the Treasury in his government at the time.

    Trump also put forward a climate skeptic in 2018 for a top position at space agency NASA. The candidate, Jim Morhard, was asked the same question as Malpass in a hearing about his candidacy at the time: “Do you agree with the scientific consensus that humans are the dominant factor in the climate?” Morhard’s answer: “I don’t know, I’m not a climate scientist.”