A growing number of White House officials are publicly criticizing David Malpass, the Trump-appointed World Bank president, after he came under fire for dodging a question about climate change.
Malpass was called to resign after appearing on a panel in which he did not directly answer whether he accepted the scientific consensus that burning fossil fuels is fueling climate change, saying “I don’t even know – I’m not a scientist and that’s not a question.” The comments further motivated White House officials who have long lobbied for his ouster and brought other, more circumspect administration officials closer to that stance. , according to two sources.
President Joe Biden has so far declined to say whether he still has faith in the World Bank chief. And White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Friday disagreed with Malpass’s climate comments.
“We disagree with President Malpass’s comments. We expect the World Bank to also be a global leader in climate ambition and mobilization,” Jean-Pierre told reporters on Friday, adding, “The Treasury Department, which oversees our engagement with international financial institutions, has and will continue to do so. clear expectation for the leaders of the World Bank.
When asked later if that meant she refused to say whether the president had confidence in Malpass, Jean-Pierre replied, “I’ve made it very clear where we stand.”
John Podesta, one of Biden’s top climate advisers, told Reuters on Friday that Malpass shouldn’t mince words about the scientific consensus around climate change.
“I would say, in particular, it’s time for a leader of an organization that serves billions of the world’s poor to not mince words about the fact that science is real,” Podesta said.
Podesta did not say directly whether he should resign from the World Bank, telling Reuters: “Malpass should represent the people the World Bank serves.”
Malpass’s potential ouster has been a long-running internal administration debate given that climate advocates — inside and outside the administration — have always considered his position. But it’s also unclear how, exactly, they would oust him.
Since his initial remarks before the panel, Malpass has tried to course correct.
He told Politico he would not resign, but apologized Friday for the comments. He also told the outlet that he would “absolutely” accept training from climatologists to improve his understanding of climate change.
“When asked, ‘Are you a climate denier?’ I should have said no,” Malpass said. “It was a badly chosen line. I regret that, because we as an organization use science every day. »
He told CNN on Thursday that climate change was “clearly” caused by humans burning fossil fuels.
When CNN’s Julia Chatterley asked him if he was a climate change denier, as former Vice President Al Gore called him, he replied, “I don’t know the political motivations behind that. Clearly, greenhouse gas emissions come from man-made sources, including fossil fuels, methane, agricultural uses, and industrial uses. And so we are working hard to change that.
“I’m not a denier, and I don’t know why this message… it gets mixed up and I’m not always good at delivering the exact message,” he said.
Malpass has been called to resign since his comments during a Tuesday panel discussion at Climate Week in New York, where he dodged a question about whether he accepted the scientific consensus that humans burning fossil fuels are “warming up rapidly and dangerously the planet”.
On Thursday, he told Chatterley: “I don’t always do the best job of answering questions or hearing what the questions are.”