BOLIVIA:  The social organizations position on the World Bank’s Energy Strategy.

La Paz, August 2010
 
The following points resume commentaries and proposals about the World Bank’s New Strategy on Energy, promoted by Fundación Solón and civil society organizations members of the Bolivian Platform on Climate Change on the face of the New World Bank Energie Strategy.
 
The World Bank Group is preparing an energy strategy which will officially be in place from the year 2011, after a process of consultation, which is supposed to be taking place until the end of this year.
 
This energy strategy proposes to increase access and reliability of energy supplies, and to ease the transition to a more sustainable development of energy in developing countries respecting the environment.  They propose two strategic pillars: 1) to improve the financial and operational performance of the energy sector; and 2) to consolidate good government to improve the contribution of energy to fair economic development. There is also a series of key goals which would have an impact in poor countries.  It explains that the majority of governments in developing countries are faced with a challenge to increase their reliability, and given that the tendency is towards  public administration  they need to improve ‘’good corporate government’’ (p31).  This strategy is based on market approaches and covers a wide range of sectors including renewable energy, efficient energy, hydroelectric energy, natural gas to generate electricity on a small scale and extractive industries. It also proposes that the energy strategy should be based on regional strategies and existing commercial projects and initiatives.
 
The following resume some aspects from the analysis on the WB document and a necessary balance of their role:
 
-Rhetoric versus Reality
We are worried about the new strategy because they fear it won’t change the World Bank’s approach regarding the predominant use of fossil fuels, or stop investing in large hydroelectric projects and others that affect the environment and human rights, especially those of indigenous nations.  Their Consultation Process is focused on a relatively specialized public and NGO’s that are being consulted - however, this will make it difficult for the voice of the people at grassroots to be heard, particularly those affected by the World Bank’s policies.
 
- The wrong vision of an Unlimited growth
 The World Bank’s vision facing climatic crisis, energy and development is to continue with constant, unlimited growth and development. It does not provide an answer to the evidence that this is not possible, given that the world has outgrown its capacity as a planet to renew resources, and therefore changes in the development paradigms of consumption and production are of utmost importance.
During the International Peoples Conference on Climate Change that took place in the city of Cochabamba in Bolivia, the following statement was made: “ The development model we advocate is not destructive or unlimited development. Countries need to produce goods and provide services that satisfy the basic needs of their population, but under no circumstances can they continue a development path where the richest countries have left an ecological print 5 times bigger than the planet can support.” (People’s Agreement, Cochabamba, April 2010). This agreement proposes the concept of “Living Well’’ as a base for development and maintains that is not possible to have unlimited competitive growth, but rather it proposes a type of growth that seeks quality of life for all which is only possible when resources are more equally shared among the planet’s inhabitants.
 
-Production and energy consumption
It is obvious that the World Bank’s Energy Strategy is focusing only on energy production and not on energy consumption. It does not consider the need to stop excessive consumption of our natural resources, especially by developed countries with their excessive energy demands.
 
-Is this clean energy?
The World Bank considers hydroelectric, biofuels and nuclear energy as clean energy, although its strategy proposal states that it will not finance nuclear energy projects. However, the legal framework falsely establishes that nuclear energy produces zero carbon emissions and it doesn’t take in to account carbon emissions emitted from the use of the necessary minerals, their treatment, enrichment, fuel production, uranium storage and radioactive residue in the long term from the construction and maintenance of the plant.
When it comes to biofuels it is even worse, because the World Bank ignores the warnings of the UN Food and Agricultural Organization about the threat of biofuels on food supply and the experience of various countries where there has been large scale deforestation to provide more land for agricultural production of these badly named  “clean fuels”.
 
-Promotion and maintenance of the big false solution: Carbon Market
The World Bank plays a large part in the application of the carbon market (part of the Clean Development Mechanisms).  Social networks and organizations from various countries question this mechanism of carbon markets because they don’t believe it resolves the problem of carbon emissions and the greenhouse effect, but rather that it passes the burden of these emissions from developed countries to developing countries. It only benefits companies and political elites, and it undermines existing environmental legislation, and above all it stops the world from really planning a quick transition from the use of fossil fuels to more sustainable sources.
 
-An unclear relationship with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
 It seems that the World Bank is working on energy and climate change and financing not in the same track than the UNFCCC negotiations and not necessarily be along the same line when these conclusions are finalized in 2012. The WB document states that “although there will be a new financial architecture… existing instruments must be used like the World Environment Fund, the Carbon Funds linked to the Clean Development Mechanisms and the joint implementation initiative for sales contracts to reduce emissions after 2010”.  It carries on with proposals and strategies based on concepts and visions of developed countries and issues that are still being debated at the Convention.
 
·       The scenarios used by the WB are far above those proposed by the developing countries (G77) during the negotiations: for example it talks about 550 ppm when the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and the African Group proposed 350 pm.  Bolivia maintains that it is more responsible to stay below 330 ppm, because to the contrary it could lead to disaster. The World Bank does not analyze the consequences of accepting such high goals, and an increase of 1 to 1.5C and doesn’t take notice of the precautions suggested by developing countries.
 
-Protection and promotion of private investment under the World Bank’s outline is damaging to our nations.
 The World Bank counts on institutions like the ICSID within its structure, which is used by multinational companies to sue countries when their investments are at risk, and this includes law suits due to environmental regulations and health and sovereignty rules that can affect private investment. This mechanism is still used and the amount of conflicts involving energy investments in the ICSID is quite significant: according to World Bank 16% of cases are related to electricity and other types of energy, and 24% related to oil, gas and mining.
 
-Lack of self criticism
In this strategy there is no self criticism about failed experiences that should be admitted so as not to be repeated. There is no critical evaluation about the consequences of promoting large scale projects, and social conflicts that come from privatization and the impact on the environment and particularly on indigenous and poor communities.
 
 What the World Bank should do about energy and climate change from the
Bolivian Platform on Climate Change organizations perspective:
 
Social organizations represented by the Bolivian Platform on Climate change made some recommendations based on their grassroots experiences about the role of the World Bank on energy and climate change:
 
·       Any consultation should take into account the People’s Agreement and the conclusions from the Peoples World Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, and, because they are proposals that are being put forward by the people to tackle the climate crisis and the need to change the development model.

·       The World Bank should support the new paradigms based on proposals such as ”Living Well” and the rights of Mother Earth. It should avoid commercial and individualistic interests but rather promote research centers in local communities and respect nation’s sovereignty.

·       The World Bank should not create more debts to countries, as perceived in its Energy Strategy, but rather it should accept that there should be a payment to compensate for climatic debt, with the transfer of resources for mitigation and adaptation to our countries.

·       The World Bank should support the development of clean and renewable energy, but not projects related to biofuels, or big hydroelectric projects and certainly not nuclear energy due to its social and environmental impact.

·       The World Bank should not impose conditions when offering help.

·       The World Bank should withdraw the mechanism of carbon markets and stop financing these mechanisms to reduce greenhouse emissions.
 
·       Any technology transfers to acceed clean energy and fight against global warming must be away the intellectual property commercial regimes.
·       The World Bank should respect each countries processes and proposals such as our constitution and the forms of community organization. The World Bank should respect political and social processes both locally and nationally.

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