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Over the past few months, quite a bit of high-level rhetoric has surrounded World Bank funding of coal projects in developing countries. On one side, Christiana Figueres, the executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, stated that “it is no longer necessary [for the World Bank to invest in coal projects] because we have many other technologies that can come forward.” On the other side, World Bank president Jim Kim stated that “we will look for everything we can possibly do to avoid [coal projects] but look, poor people should not pay the price with their lives of mistakes that people have been making in the developed world for a very long time.”
We can all agree that it’s unconscionable that, in 2012, there are still 1.3 billion people without access to electricity. But there’s also that pesky problem of greenhouse gases cooking our planet. So, the big question is: should we burn more fossil fuels like natural gas to help bring power to those without?