Written by Jeff Mason, Valerie Volcovici and Andrea Shalal
WASHINGTON/PITSBURG (Reuters) – The White House said on Friday it condemns recent comments on climate change by World Bank President David Malpass, who came under fire this week after refusing to say whether he accepted the scientific consensus on global warming.
“We condemn the words of the ‘World Bank’ president, and we expect the World Bank to be a global leader in climate ambition and mobilization,” White House Press Secretary Karen-Jean-Pierre told reporters.
She said the Treasury Department, which oversees US engagement with the bank, “has been and will continue to articulate this expectation for World Bank leadership.”
Jean-Pierre spoke shortly after John Podesta, President Joe Biden’s senior climate advisor, said Malpass, a Republican nominated by former President Donald Trump, should “speak out” about the scientific consensus on climate change.
Malpass came under fire this week from some world leaders and environmental groups after he refused to say whether he accepted the scientific consensus on global warming.
Malpass on Friday acknowledged his comments were “unfortunate,” but said none of the bank’s shareholders had asked him to resign.
Podesta, who was appointed earlier this month to oversee $370 billion in new climate spending in the United States, criticized Malpass at the Global Clean Energy Action Forum in Pittsburgh without naming him.
Malpass first addressed the concerns Thursday in an interview with CNN International and in a separate staff note, saying it was clear human activity was fueling climate change and defending his record at the helm of the development bank.
On Friday, he told Politico it was “a pity” that he responded as he did on Tuesday: “When asked, Are you a climate denier?” I should have said “no”. … I wasn’t really prepared nor did I do my best to answer this charge.”
However, Podesta said the World Bank president’s reluctance on climate change is worrying given his mandate to help improve the well-being of billions of people around the world.
“It is time for the leader of an organization that responds to billions of poor people around the world not to overstate the fact that science is real,” Podesta told the audience at the Pittsburgh Summit.
When asked if Malpass should resign, Podesta did not respond but told Reuters on the sidelines of the event that “Malpass should represent the people the World Bank serves.”
Malpass, whose five-year term is due to end in the spring of 2024, reiterated Friday that he believes human activity has caused climate change, while defending what he called the Bank’s “strong leadership” on climate change and its role as a leading climate funder. Change projects.
Asked if any shareholder had been asked to resign over the issue, Malpass said “No, no one has.”
His comment about not being a scientist “wasn’t a good phrase for me to use,” he said, adding, “We have a lot of input from the global scientific community…we interact with scientists.”
The President of the United States usually nominates the heads of the World Bank, subject to approval by the Bank’s Board of Directors. The Treasury declined to comment when asked if it would support a second term for Malpass when his term ends in 2024.