WASHINGTON — Uncertainty about the Trump administration’s stance on climate change won’t change the World Bank’s focus on the issue, the institution’s chief said on Thursday.
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim on Thursday, referring to the threat that the Trump administration could withdraw from the Paris agreement on climate which has now been signed by 143 countries.
The Trump administration could withdraw from the Paris agreement on climate which has now been signed by 143 countries.
A number of events focused specifically on climate change are scheduled, featuring climate advocates including former Vice President Al Gore, U.N. Environment Program Director Erik Solheim, and Sweden’s finance minister, Magdalena Andersson.
The United States has been under intense international scrutiny since its withdrawal from the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on climate, despite Gore’s promise at the time that the United States would be active in reducing greenhouse gases. The United States was then the world’s largest carbon emitter, and is now the second behind China.
Kim said that climate issues are paramount in developing countries, and this was clear to him during a recent trip to Africa. “All I heard was, you know, these droughts, the droughts and flood and droughts and floods,” he said. “We all know that this is because of climate change.”
Officials said that participants in the World Bank-IMF sessions also would discuss means for connecting public- and private-sector efforts to combat climate change.
Kim said he is optimistic that technologies supporting climate change will quickly mature, but stressed the importance of providing adequate funding for the deployment of these technologies.
Kim said the Word Bank is currently helping six major emitters of coal-based carbon — China, India, Philippines, Indonesia, Pakistan and Vietnam — to turn towards more renewable energy.
Besides climate change, Kim and Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, discussed issues surrounding economic growth and the need to make sure that technology and globalization reach all sectors of society.
“[We need to have ] equitable growth within countries, across countries and between generations,” said Lagarde. High-quality infrastructure investment, rising minimum wages, facilitate labor mobility are all useful measures to keep in mind, she said.
Kim agreed. “We need to free up the resources to invest in human beings, so developing countries are better prepared for automation,” he said.
Seventy-five percent of existing jobs in developing countries eventually will be wiped out by automation, Kim said. “Trade is only responsible for 20% of the job loss, the vast majority of job loss is due to automation.”
Due to looming job loss in the wake of automation, U.S. political debate in future presidential elections may turn to questions about universal basic income, said Evan Burfield, founder of 1776, a consulting firm that helps start-up companies. Burfield spoke at a conference on Wednesday sponsored by Bertelsmann and the Financial Times. Advocates of universal basic income say that in the future, governments may guarantee regular fixed payments to their citizens as job availability declines.
Cecilia Muños, who served as President Barack Obama’s director of the Domestic Policy Council, disagreed, saying that the establishment of universal basic income is not yet necessary, and that the concept is at odds with basic American values.