World Bank gives go ahead to new climate funds

July 2nd, 2008 - 4:38 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, July 2 (DPA) The World Bank Tuesday approved the creation of multi-billion-dollar global funds to help poor countries tackle global warming and boost investment in renewable technologies. The Clean Technology Fund is expected to receive at least $5 billion in pledges and will provide a combination of loans and grants to projects that reduce greenhouse-gas emissions blamed for global warming.

A separate and smaller Climate Investment Fund will conduct pilot projects to help developing countries deal with the likely impacts of climate change around the world.

The two funds mark the World Bank’s first direct foray into climate change financing. The bank’s President Robert Zoellick called them a “key element” of the global lender’s response to global warming, which has threatened the bank’s core goal of tackling poverty.

The funds are not expected to be fully operational until the end of the year, and approved projects are only likely to get underway in 2009, the bank said.

US President George W Bush has pledged $2 billion over the next three years for the technology fund, while Japan has offered $1 billion.

Bank officials said the fund would offer resources to a whole range of emissions-cutting projects and was designed to be “technology neutral.”

Countries could even get money to “rehabilitate” old coal power plants, considered one of the dirtiest options but still heavily relied upon as an energy source in a number of countries, said Warren Evans, director of the bank’s environment department.

While technologies to curb emissions have already been developed, the question of just how countries can best adapt to climate change is still an uncertain science.

Evans said the second “strategic” fund was meant primarily to close that “knowledge gap” and experiment with methods for countries to beat back climate change, without undercutting their economic development.

“If we had a huge amount of money thrown at adaptation today, I’m not sure we would know how to use it,” Evans told reporters. “We’re in a learning mode.”

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