From The Washington Times
The unexpected departure of Dr. Jim Yong Kim as president of the World Bank gives President Donald J. Trump the perfect opportunity to reverse the anti-fossil fuel, energy poverty agenda the bank has pursued since Dr. Kim’s appointment by President Barack Obama in 2012.
The World Bank is the world’s premier development bank. Its knowledge of developing countries means that its participation is often essential to leverage private sector investment into some of the world’s poorest countries.
Rather than development, Dr. Kim saw the bank’s principal job as waging President Obama’s war on coal across the developing world. One of his first acts was instituting a ban on World Bank participation in any funding of new electrical generation projects using coal, other than in the most exceptional circumstances.
The United States is the bank’s largest funder, but Dr. Kim behaved as if Hillary Clinton had won Barack Obama’s third term in the 2016 presidential election. In no area was the policy rupture between the two administrations sharper than on energy, where Mr. Obama’s war on coal has been replaced by the Trump administration’s doctrine of American energy dominance.
Yet Dr. Kim decided to defy his host government and largest funder. At the December 2017 climate summit, France’s President Macron threw to celebrate the second anniversary of the Paris Agreement, Dr. Kim announced that the World Bank was extending its financing ban to upstream oil and gas. To cap it all, in October 2017 Dr. Kim said the bank would be withdrawing its support for its sole remaining coal project, a badly needed clean coal plant in Kosovo, a struggling country in the Balkans.
It’s not only that Dr. Kim misread the politics. On the fundamentals of what is good for developing countries’ economic development and human welfare, the Trump administration is right and Dr. Kim wrong. The centralized electrical grid is the single most beneficial innovation of the 20th century. In developed countries, it is what separates the 20th century from the 19th century.
It’s hardly surprising that FDR’s rural electrification program in the 1930s was one of the most popular and lasting parts of the New Deal. Rural farmers and small towns wanted all the benefits that only reliable, grid-connected electricity can provide and that city and suburban dwellers were already enjoying.
• Rupert Darwall is the author of “Green Tyranny: Exposing the Totalitarian Roots of the Climate Industrial Complex” (Encounter, 2017). Myron Ebell is director of the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Center for Energy and Environment.