World Bank’s David Malpass Says He Isn’t Resigning Amid Criticism of His Climate Views

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WASHINGTON—World Bank President

David Malpass

said Friday he wasn’t resigning from his position amid calls from climate advocates for him to step down over his views on climate change.

Mr. Malpass also said the bank’s shareholders—governments around the world led by the U.S.—haven’t asked him to resign. Mr. Malpass, who was nominated to lead the bank by former President

Donald Trump,

was speaking in an interview with Politico.

The World Bank chief has been under criticism since Tuesday over his response to questions regarding whether burning of fossil fuels has led to rapid and dangerous global warming. At a New York climate event hosted by the

New York Times

he declined to directly answer, saying, “I am not a scientist.”

He has since sought to clarify his positions amid an uproar on social media.

“Look, it’s clear that greenhouse-gas emissions from human activity are adding to, are causing, climate change,” Mr. Malpass said in the Friday interview.

Mr. Malpass acknowledged that he didn’t do his best job in responding to a comment by former Vice President

Al Gore

who called him a “climate denier” at the Tuesday event.

“When asked ‘Are you a climate denier?’ I should have said no,” Mr. Malpass said Friday, while calling Mr. Gore’s comment off topic at a seminar to discuss policy impact. The incident was “unfortunate,” he said, because the World Bank is taking a forceful leadership position to address climate change.

The president of the U.S., by far the largest shareholder of the World Bank, customarily appoints the chief of the World Bank, a Washington-based lender for developing countries. Mr. Trump appointed Mr. Malpass to a five-year term that ends in 2024.

The Trump administration frequently bucked international efforts to reduce carbon emissions, while the Biden administration has made climate policy a priority.

“We expect the World Bank Group to be a global leader of climate ambition and the mobilization of significantly more climate finance for developing countries,” Treasury Department spokesman Michael Kikukawa said, responding to a question about the U.S.’s position on Mr. Malpass’s standing. “We have—and will continue—to make that expectation clear to World Bank leadership.”

Treasury Secretary

Janet Yellen

has met the heads of multilateral financial institutions including the World Bank to press them to increase their climate finance amounts, step up their efforts to assist countries in reducing emissions and better mobilize private capital for climate investments.

Write to Yuka Hayashi at [email protected]

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