Consultation on the World Bank’s Environmental and Social Framework

The full response is available as a pdf

We responded to the World Bank’s consultation exercise on its Environmental and Social Framework initiated in July 2014. We presented briefly the key facts about nuclear energy and the conditions under which the industry operates in relation to the draft framework. This exercise shows, in principle, that nuclear energy projects meet the Bank’s environmental and social standards for sustainable development.

Furthermore, nuclear energy has a key role to play in meeting the World Bank’s Vision for Sustainable Development, by providing energy that mitigates the impact of climate change on people and the environment. At least 80% of the world’s electricity must be low-carbon by 2050 to keep the world within 2°C of warming.

This is a massive global challenge that requires the use of all available low-carbon energy technologies. Nuclear energy is recognized by the IPCC as “an effective greenhouse gas mitigation option” with life cycle emissions “comparable to most renewables”. According to the International Energy Agency the use of nuclear energy needs to “more than double” by 2050 if the world is to stay within 2°C of warming.4 Nuclear energy is essential if we are to improve energy access and successfully tackle climate change. It should be expected to play a greater role in developing countries and emerging economies.

We believe the framework provides a solid basis for assessing the environmental and social impacts of a project the Bank is considering funding. We would however ask for clarity in how exactly the document relates to previous sustainability visions the Bank has issued (as for example set out in Toward a Sustainable Energy Future for All: Directions for the World Bank Group’s Energy Sector, which includes a note regarding nuclear energy) and whether these documents are now superseded. We are strongly supportive of the fact that in this framework projects appear to be considered on their individual environmental and social merits, with no obvious blanket exceptions. Such a vision needs to be applied consistently across the Bank’s areas of activity and lending.