After facing calls to resign for declining to say whether he accepts the scientific consensus on global warming, World Bank President David Malpass said on Thursday he is not a climate change denier and defended his climate record as bank chief.
Malpass was asked at a climate event in New York on Tuesday whether he believes the “manmade burning of fossil fuels” is dangerously warming the planet. He tried to dodge the question before saying: “I don’t even know. I’m not a scientist.”
The remarks drew criticism from civil society groups who called on President Joe Biden to replace Malpass as head of the multilateral development bank. They also rekindled concerns about the bank’s lack of a deadline to stop funding fossil fuels.
During an interview with CNN International on Thursday, Malpass was asked whether he was a climate change denier.
“No, I’m not, and I don’t know the political motivations behind that. It’s clear that greenhouse gas emissions are coming from manmade sources, including fossil fuels, methane, the agricultural uses, the industrial uses, so we’re working hard to change that,” Malpass said.
“I’m not a denier, and I don’t know why that message, you know, it gets tangled up, and I’m not always good at conveying the exact message,” Malpass added.
The president of the United States, the largest World Bank shareholder, traditionally appoints World Bank presidents.
Former president Donald Trump appointed Malpass to a five-year term in 2019.
Malpass said that during his tenure as the bank’s chief, he has sought to focus people on impactful projects “rather than speaking in the abstract at conferences about the goals of the (climate) effort.”
Biden, in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, did not respond when reporters asked him a question about Malpass’ remarks.