Malpass, who formerly served as under secretary of the Treasury for international affairs under former President Donald Trump, was asked on Tuesday whether he affirms that the “manmade burning of fossil fuels is rapidly and dangerously warming the planet.” Malpass reportedly said: “I don’t even know. I’m not a scientist.”
People familiar with the matter told Axios that the Biden administration has long viewed Malpass with suspicion and confirmed that officials have considered replacing him — although the process for triggering a leadership change at the international financial institution would likely be complicated.
The United States is the largest shareholder in the World Bank, which provides loans and grants to the governments of developing nations for capital projects, and the president typically nominates the organization’s leader. Malpass, who was nominated by Trump in 2019, is slated to complete his five-year term in 2024.
Biden could nominate former Vice President Al Gore or Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry. A spokesperson for Gore told Axios that he “strongly believes that there needs to be new leadership at the World Bank, but has no intention of pursuing the role himself and would not accept it if offered.”
Malpass reacted to the notion that he is a climate change “denier” — a charge levied by Gore and other officials — by rejecting the label outright. “I don’t know the political motivations behind that,” he said during an interview with CNN. “It’s clear that greenhouse gas emissions are coming from manmade sources, including fossil fuels, methane, agricultural uses and industrial uses. And so we’re working hard to change that.”
Biden has pushed green energy policies while leasing less federal land for oil drilling than any of his predecessors since the end of World War II. At the beginning of his tenure, Biden also nixed expansions to the Keystone XL pipeline project over environmental concerns. Last month, he signed the $740 billion Inflation Reduction Act, which includes $369 billion in programs meant to accelerate a transition to renewable energy.
A fact sheet from the office of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) claimed that the law will create 9 million jobs across the United States while bringing “manufacturing of clean technology like solar panels, wind turbines, batteries, and much more back to America.” Among other items, the law funds $160 billion in clean electricity tax credits, $43 billion in production tax credits, and $40 billion in tax credits to make buildings more energy efficient.
Top administration officials, including Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, have argued that “the only way” out of “boom-and-bust cycles” in energy prices is “deploying clean energy.”
“The real truth is that as long as our nation remains overly reliant on oil and fossil fuels, we will feel these price shocks again,” Granholm said at a June press briefing. “This is not going to be the last time. The next time there’s a war, the next time there’s a pandemic or another hurricane, these extreme weather events we are experiencing — they will impact the access that we have to fossil fuels.”