Sloughing off Earth Day despair with resources to make climate-smart infrastructure a reality

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Earth Day concept Earth Day concept | Image: DOERS, Shutterstock

When the first Earth Day was celebrated 52 years ago on April 22, many of the young activists and local volunteers picking up litter and protesting for cleaner air and water may not have predicted just how precarious the state of the planet would be today. The population in 1970 was 3.7 billion; today it’s 7.9 billion—with the vast majority of people living in developing countries and lacking crucial infrastructure like internet access, clean water, efficient transportation, and reliable energy, especially clean energy.

In the face of our climate crisis, it’s imperative we work together—including scaling up private investment—to deliver infrastructure services in a climate-smart manner.

The latest report by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says the world is on track to miss a crucial climate target within eight years pushing the climate into “unprecedented” territory. U.N. Secretary General António Guterres said the findings catalogue "empty pledges that put us firmly on track towards an unlivable world." According to the experts, however, it’s still technically possible—and economically viable—to curb carbon pollution on the scale that’s required to limit warming if greenhouse gas emissions are rapidly and dramatically cut.

The CEO & Chairperson of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, offers this call to action: “The one thing we cannot do in response to the climate crisis is give up. The findings of this report are stark and worrisome, laying out a panorama of impacts affecting every corner of the globe. But the story is not over—we can and we must change this trajectory.”

On this Earth Day, we’ve pulled together some practical reading (and viewing) to further motivate our readers to invest in and build climate-start, resilient, and sustainable infrastructure.  We’ve focused on actionable information and tools to help accelerate the momentum:

World Bank Live Event: Financing Climate Action:
As part of the 2022 IMF/World Bank Group’s Spring Meetings, tune into Financing Climate Action this Thursday, April 21, for a live-streamed discussion at 11:00 AM EDT with an impressive line-up of speakers including World Bank President David R. Malpass and IFC Managing Director Makhtar Diop. The event will look at what investments are needed; how we can unlock private finance for climate action; and how countries are stepping up to the challenges. A recording of the event will be available shortly after it ends if you can’t tune in live.

PPP Climate Toolkit for Infrastructure:
The Climate Toolkits for Infrastructure PPPs (CTIP3)—developed by the World Bank, IFC, Public-Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility (PPIAF), and the Global Infrastructure Facility (GIF), can help governments and advisors address key questions on how to mainstream climate considerations into infrastructure and PPPs. We’ve released the first of a series that will help align interests and incentives towards climate-smart investments and tap into the tremendous private sector financing capacity. Read this blog to learn more.

Transport Decarbonization Investment Series:
The World Bank, the Dutch government, and the World Resources Institute jointly developed a new series of publications and events that aim to deliver actionable recommendations, with a focus on overcoming investment barriers and developing innovative financial instruments to decarbonize transport.

A blueprint for action to attract private investment in climate adaptation for infrastructure:
This World Bank­–IFC report identifies ways to overcome key barriers to private sector investment in adaptation and resilience, laying out a coordinated and data-driven Blueprint for Action to help governments and their development partners close the adaptation finance gap and deploy efforts in concrete projects. It highlights three areas for government action: policy; incentives; and standards, metrics, and regulations—plus critical entry points to enable private investment in adaptation.

Leveraging close collaboration and partnerships to create climate-smart infrastructure:
This story illustrates how mobilizing the right partners for funding, technical expertise, and implementation can help countries respond to the climate crisis with energy-efficient infrastructure.  Mongolia’s new climate-friendly central vaccine storage facility was financed by the World Bank, with the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP) providing in-kind technical expertise, working with UNICEF as the implementing agency. The facility was designed and constructed in just over three months, ensuring Mongolia could store its COVID-19 vaccines while limiting greenhouse gases and local air pollution.

Being realistic about what a carbon tax can do:
This blog and podcast explain why governments may or may not want to use carbon taxes as an essential policy tool to limit carbon emissions, and even if there is such a tax why other policies are needed too.




Sunny Kaplan

Communications Specialist, World Bank

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