The World Bank turns 80 next summer, which means eight decades of loans to fund infrastructure and other projects in poor countries. But it is entering its ninth decade with a bit of an identity crisis, and a widespread understanding that it needs to transform itself.

Ajay Banga, the former Mastercard CEO picked by President Joe Biden as the bank’s new leader, faces heavy pressure from climate groups to stop offering loans and other financing for carbon-emitting projects like natural gas plants. In turn, many governments in developing countries find this pressure brazenly hypocritical: the developed world got rich by burning coal and oil, and is now pulling the ladder up behind it lest poor countries use those same resources.

Masood Ahmed, who served for 21 years at the World Bank and now leads the Center for Global Development, a think tank working on development issues, thinks this debate is largely a distraction. The big question isn’t what the Bank shouldn’t do — it’s what the Bank should do.

How can the Bank fund solar and wind farms, electrical transmission, energy storage, nuclear production, and other zero-carbon ways of providing the developing world with the energy resources they deserve? If we don’t want Nigeria and Bangladesh to one day emit as much per person as the US or Germany in pursuit of giving their people a better life, we need to give those countries an alternative.

That requires global coordination, and Ahmed thinks the Bank is the right group to lead the charge. He imagines a world where vast projects, like solar farms across the Sahara Desert that feed into electrical grids from Europe to central Africa, are shepherded to completion by the World Bank, coordinating the potentially dozens of countries that would need to participate, help fund, and build out the ideas.

Read the full article about World Bank and climate change by Dylan Matthews at Vox.