2017 Season of Creation Campaign for a Big Shift at the World Bank: going to 100% renewable energy by or before 2020

August 8, 2017

The BIG SHIFT Global Campaign urging MDBs to go 100%RE by or before 2020

The campaign aims to take public pressure on Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) and their Executive Directors (some of who have indicated that they could use the leverage of public opinion in the Bank’s Board meetings) as well as on their members countries’ Heads of State and Finance Ministers to a decisive level.

This campaign will in its pilot phase aim at the World Bank and its EDs by the Annual Meetings in October 2017, with a view to bringing regional development banks also in scope of the campaign in 2018 through 2020.

Research shows that the World Bank has been contributing to further financing of coal-fired power stations until 2015 and even after its commitment to Paris Agreement. We need to challenge this continued funding of the fossil fuels that are causing damaging climate change, influence the World Bank policies on energy investment, and lobby for a Big Shift towards investing in renewables. This work urgently needs to continue into 2017/18.

Enhancement of ambition in each country’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and creation of long-term strategies (LTS) before 2020 by countries requires public finance to shift at a larger scale than is happening at the moment to send a strong signal to other stakeholders. The World Bank needs to raise the bar for transformation and momentum of shifting away from fossil fuels. Their finance needs to enable ambition beyond the current NDCs by making modern, clean, sustainable energy and infrastructure affordable and accessible to their client countries.

Accordingly, country strategies and various instruments of financing by the World Bank are in need of urgent review as per the mandate from their client countries for building a new sustainable economy and shifting financial flows as enshrined in the Paris Agreement and Agenda 2030. The use of public finance for fossil fuels needs to become an exception during transition and the call for such a shift needs to come from the governments of client countries and from stakeholders within these countries.

Alongside our UK campaign towards the big banks, the Big Shift is working across the globe towards the same aims of directing millions of pounds of investments out of fossil fuels and into clean, low carbon renewable energy.

We’re also making the case for access to clean energy to millions of energy poor people currently living with no access to electricity.


What is needed to for this Big Shift?

1. Phase out fossil fuels
2. Phase in renewable energy
3. Provide energy access

How are we doing this?

We’re listening to the scientists, world leaders and faith communities who have declared that at least two thirds of the world’s fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground.

This is to make sure that we avoid global temperatures rising more than 2 degrees or even better 1.5 degrees — the limit agreed by nations across the globe.

Communities in Bangladesh regularly face the threat of deadly floods due to a changing climate.

The World Bank says that climate change is disproportionately affecting the poorest people on the planet and states that its goal is to end extreme poverty at the global level within a generation.

However, the World Bank still supports fossil fuel projects that contribute further to the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, accelerating global warming and worsening climate change.

It is time for the World Bank to put its money where its mouth is.

We want the World Bank, through its investment choices, to help ensure we create a future where everyone has access to affordable, decentralised renewable energy; a world that no longer relies on fossil fuels for energy and where poverty is a thing of the past.

This means the World Bank must phase out all investment in fossil fuels and increase its focus on renewable energy and energy access.

To do this, we’re calling for a review of the World Bank’s energy strategy.

We’re calling for much greater transparency about the impact of their investments in energy on the lives of ordinary people, particularly in terms of tackling poverty and getting access to clean, reliable energy for those currently living without it.

Students in Malawi studying in the evening with the help of solar lanterns.

A lot of developing countries are at a crossroads between a fossil fuel future and a low-carbon sustainable future.

As well as the World Bank, the multilateral development banks (MDBs) have a huge influence in Africa, Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean. These banks finance projects in the form of loans and grants and these investments reduce risk for private and state investors.

Take a look at Christian Aid’s report ‘Financing our Future’ which shows the two faces of these banks. On the one hand, they are at the forefront of climate finance and renewable energy, but they also continue to support billions of pounds of fossil fuel projects.

What are we doing about it?

As well as working directly to change the approach of the World Bank, we’ve been looking at countries that are severely impacted by climate change. Countries where hundreds of thousands of people are living in energy poverty, with little access to energy.

We’re excited to announce that to date our Big Shift work has started in:


Kenya, Malawi and Ethiopia


The Philippines, Bangladesh

Latin America

Central America as a region and Bolivia

And we have been supporting the emergence of regional networks such as the Africa Coalition for Sustainable Energy & Access (ACSEA) and the Asia Consortium on Climate Change (ACCC) to develop joint regional advocacy towards the MDBs and other influential regional institutions.

Big Shift campaigners in Hanoi, Vietnam

In each country and region the challenges are different and the approaches we take are too. But the Big Shift is urgent, so we are working with our partners to:

  • engage and support people at a community level across three geographic regions to gain access to renewable energy technology, and to bring an end to investment in fossil fuel energy
  • invite those people to bring moral and ethical pressure to bear on the MDBs and the World Bank so that they urgently phase out funding for fossil fuels.

We took the Big Shift to the UN climate talks in Marrakesh

We kicked off the activities with a stunt to persuade delegates arriving for the day to ‘get finance out of fossil fuels’. Credit: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/LWF
Celebrating Renewable Energy in Africa

With our partners the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) and with the ACT Alliance, we demanded financing for a renewable energy revolution in the continent of Africa to get clean energy to people who most need it.

‘We need other civil society organisations to join the Big Shift initiative and demand investment in the energy sector to be moved from fossil fuel to renewable or low carbon energy.’

— Mithika Mwenda, Director, Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA)