WASHINGTON (AP) — World Bank President David Malpass said Friday he would not resign after coming under fire for remarks earlier this week about climate change.
At a New York Times-sponsored event on Tuesday, Malpass did not respond directly when asked if burning fossil fuels has contributed to global warming. Instead, he said, “I’m not a scientist.”
In an interview with Politico on Friday, Malpass said he would not step down and that none of the bank’s member governments had asked him to do so. He acknowledged he should have done a better job answering questions on Tuesday, including from former Vice President Al Gore, who asked if he was a “climate denier”.
“When asked, ‘Are you a climate denier?’ I should have said no,” he said.
Malpass also said the World Bank is taking a position of “strong leadership” on climate issues.
“It is clear that greenhouse gas emissions from human activity are driving climate change,” Malpass said in Friday’s interview. “So the task for us, for the world, is to bring together the projects and the funding that really have an impact.”
Malpass was appointed to this position by former President Donald Trump in 2019, following the long-standing tradition of allowing the United States to choose the head of the World Bank and European governments to choose the head of the International Monetary Fund. His five-year term ends in April 2024.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Friday the Biden administration disagreed with Malpass’s comments suggesting climate change is not caused by human activity. .
Jean-Pierre did not say whether the administration would seek to remove Malpass, as that would require the approval of other members of the World Bank.
The Treasury Department will “hold Malpass accountable,” Jean-Pierre said, “and support the many staff working on climate change at the World Bank. But again, removal would require a majority of stakeholders .
Environmentalists urged that Malpass be evicted if necessary.
“Climate denial has no place in a world where millions of people are suffering the ravages of this crisis,” said Johanna Chao Kreilick, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists. “Malpass must be replaced immediately.”
Associated Press writer Josh Boak contributed to this report.