Jubilee USA

NOVEMBER 14, 2006
9:57 AM

Brianna Cayo Cotter (RAN), 415.398.4404 x357

World Bank, G8 Nations Pressured to End Oil Aid

SAN FRANCISCO - November 14 - As talks over a solution to the problem of global climate change wrap up in Nairobi this week, a broad coalition of environmental and human rights groups purchased a full page ad in The Financial Times today calling on the World Bank and G8 nations to end subsidies for the international oil industry that come at the expense of the environment and impoverished countries. The groups also called on policymakers to help fight global poverty by supporting broader debt cancellation.

Following on the heels of the just released Stern Report, which called climate change "the greatest and widest-ranging market failure ever seen," the ad criticizes the World Bank for having provided more than $5 billion in subsidies to the oil industry since 1992, while devoting only five percent of its energy budget to clean, renewable energy sources. The U.S. government has spent even more on subsidies for Big Oil, a policy which has fueled global warming, encouraged oil dependence, and increased conflict, poverty and debt around the world. The ad notes, "On November 7, Americans voted for an agenda that called for an end to the support of Big Oil, and we urge Congress to act on this promise in the coming months."

According to the ad, "Soaring oil prices are undermining the benefits of limited debt cancellation in many of the world's most impoverished countries, particularly those that are oil importers.the estimated cost of Tanzania's oil imports rose from $190 million in 2002 to $480 million this year - for the same amount of oil. In comparison, debt cancellation is expected to only free up about $140 million for Tanzania in 2006. Furthermore, this cancellation doesn't even touch on the debt held by large private banks in London, Paris and New York."

While the world's poorest nations suffer, oil companies are raking in record profits. ExxonMobil reported profits of $4.7 million an hour in July 2006.

In Chad, the World Bank supported an ExxonMobil oil project that has exacerbated conflict and poverty in the African nation. Upon completion of the project, Chad's authoritarian president increased military spending and ripped up an agreement with the World Bank meant to ensure that oil revenues went to fighting poverty. The World Bank ended its objections as soon as the president threatened to cut off the oil if his terms were not accepted.

When Ecuador's government sought to use oil revenues to alleviate poverty, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank protested by withholding promised new lending and forced the country to pay its debt to the IMF, World Bank and other creditors.

"Around the world, our tax dollars have been improperly used to subsidize Big Oil instead of providing clean energy for the poor, combating climate change, and ending our destructive oil addiction," the ad continues. "It is time for G8 governments and institutions like the World Bank to stop using development assistance to support Big Oil."

The organizations that purchased the ad include Rainforest Action Network, Jubilee USA, Oil Change International, Bank Information Center, Friends of the Earth and Amazon Watch.

For more information, visit www.endoilaid.org.