DeSmogBlog reader's comment prods thinking on World Bank coal-plant loan

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My post about the World Bank loaning India $450 million to build a new coal-fired power plant prompted a DeSmog reader to ask if I’m “against the idea of a plant that has less pollution than previous ones?”

I’m not opposed to a less-polluting plant. As a committed opponent of global warming and greenhouse-gas emissions, I’m certainly in favor of reducing pollution.

But the plant in question is going to be burning coal.

The $450-million loan from the International Finance Corporation, a branch of the World Bank, was up-front money for a planned $4 billion, 4,000 megawatt coal-burning power plant.

The World Bank and its affiliates provide loans to developing countries in exchange for reforms that remove constraints on global corporations seeking to invest or locate there. The loans are for construction of roads, ports, mines, hydroelectric dams, oil wells and pipelines – and coal-fired power stations.

Burning coal is a leading cause of smog, acid rain, global warming, and air toxics. In an average year, a typical coal plant generates 3,700,000 tons of carbon dioxide, the primary human cause of global warming – the equivalent of cutting down 161-million trees. And that’s just the beginning.

Revenues rarely reach the poor, who are often displaced from their homes, suffer loss or damage to their natural resource base, and are placed in the front line of the climate upheaval the Bank’s support for fossil fuels is helping to cause.

The reader suggested compromise while “technologies that mitigate pollution become economically viable for emerging countries. It’s like driving that bad car, while you wait to afford the safer newer model.” Sounds reasonable.

But the Bank is building a new plant, not driving an old car. And after shoveling $4 billion into a new coal-fired power complex, the only way to justify the expense is by burning the filthy, health-hazardous fuel it was designed for.

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