© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: World Bank President David Malpass answers a reporter’s question during the opening press conference at the IMF and World Bank Fall 2019 Annual Meeting between finance ministers and governors bank, in Washington, U.S., October 17, 2019.
By Jeff Mason, Valerie Volcovici and Andrea Shalal
WASHINGTON/PITTSBURGH (Reuters) – The White House on Friday said it condemns recent comments about climate change by World Bank President David Malpass, who was fired this week after he denied it. indicates whether he accepts the scientific consensus on global warming.
“We condemn the words of the president of the World Bank,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters.
The Treasury Department, which oversees US engagement with the bank, “has and will continue to clarify that expectation with World Bank leadership,” she said.
Jean-Pierre spoke shortly after President Joe Biden’s top climate adviser John Podesta said that Malpass, a Republican nominated by former President Donald Trump, should not “reject” the scientific consensus. study climate change.
Malpass was criticized by several world leaders and environmental groups this week after he declined to say whether he accepted the scientific consensus on global warming.
Malpass on Friday acknowledged that his remarks were “regrettable”, but said none of the bank’s shareholders had asked him to step down.
Podesta, appointed earlier this month to oversee $370 billion in new US climate spending, criticized Malpass at the Global Clean Energy Action Forum in Pittsburgh without mentioning his name.
Malpass first addressed the concerns on Thursday in an interview with CNN International and in a separate note to staff, saying it’s clear that human activity is driving climate change and protecting the environment. defend his record as head of the development bank.
On Friday, he told Politico it was “unfortunate” that he responded as he did on Tuesday: “When asked, ‘Are you a climate protester?’ I should have said ‘no.’ … I really wasn’t prepared and didn’t do my best job to answer that allegation.”
However, Podesta says the World Bank’s leadership’s hesitancy on climate change is troubling as he is tasked with helping improve the happiness of billions of people around the world.
Podesta told the audience at the Pittsburgh summit: “It is time that a leader of an organization capable of responding to billions of poor people around the world should not confine his words to the fact that science learning is real.
When asked if Malpass should step down, Podesta did not respond, telling Reuters on the sidelines of the event that “Malpass should represent the people the World Bank serves.”
Malpass, whose five-year term ends in spring 2024, reiterated on Friday that he believes human activity causes climate change, while defending what he calls “the strong leadership” of the bank on climate change and its role as a leading climate financier. project change.
Asked if any shareholders asked him to resign over the matter, Malpass said: “No, no one has.”
He said his comment about not being a scientist “wasn’t a good phrase for me to use”, adding, “We have a lot of input from the community global science… We interact with scientists.”
The President of the United States traditionally nominates World Bank presidents, subject to confirmation by the bank’s board. The Treasury declined to comment when asked if it would support a second provision for Malpass when his term ends in 2024.