World Bank Group President Malpass speaks during the 2019 United Nations Climate Action Summit at U.N. headquarters in New York City, New York, U.S.
World Bank Group President David R. Malpass speaks during the 2019 United Nations Climate Action Summit at U.N. headquarters in New York City, New York, U.S., September 23, 2019.

World Bank President David Malpass said on Friday that he was keeping an "intense" focus on the bank's efforts to address climate change and was embracing the U.S. Treasury's call to dramatically boost lending capacity to address this and other global problems.

Two weeks after Malpass came under fire for declining to say whether he accepts the scientific consensus on global warming, he told reporters that there was very strong support from the World Bank board, from staff and from the U.S. government for the lender's climate initiatives that he was leading.

Asked if he expected complete his five-year term despite some U.S. democratic lawmakers urging President Joe Biden to seek his replacement, Malpass said: "World Bank staff and people are very focused on getting solutions to problems around the world, including the climate challenges. One of my goals is to have that focus be very strong and intense."

He said there were a lot of climate tasks "that we're in middle of that it's really important to keep pushing forward on and completing."

Malpass, a former U.S. Treasury official, was nominated by then-President Donald Trump in 2019 for a five-year term that ends in April 2024. The United States is the largest shareholder of the World Bank, which has been led by an American since it began operations in 1946.

His comments to reporters came on the eve of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund annual meetings, at which climate, spillovers from the war in Ukraine, pressures from inflation, debt distress and food insecurity will be among major topics.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Thursday urged the World Bank and other multilateral development lenders to revamp their business models and dramatically scale up lending to address pressing global needs, with climate change and the transition to clean energy at the top of the list.

She said the World Bank should produce an "evolution roadmap" by December to meet these challenges.

Malpass said he was fully supportive of Yellen's directive and that the bank was already working with shareholders to stretch its resources to boost lending in the face of "a major set of crises."

"She's raising very good points about the need for evolution of the international financial institutions in the face of a crisis and also in the face of a great deal of change going on in the world, so we embrace that," Malpass said.