From: Oliver Teves, Associated Press
Published March 1, 2005 12:00 AM

Greenpeace Urges World Bank, ADB to Shift Funding to Renewable Energy

MANILA, Philippines — Greenpeace on Tuesday urged international funding agencies such as the World Bank to shift financing from large-scale, fossil-fuel projects to renewable energy to help stop global warming.


Gerd Leipold, executive director of Greenpeace International, said developing wind power, geothermal energy and hydropower would help reduce the levels of greenhouses gases.


However, he said international financing agencies, particularly the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, favor fossil-fuel energy projects, such as coal-fired power plants.


"I cannot emphasize enough the potential that is in shifting to a new technology and in emphasizing self-interest ... to protect one's population and also to create a domestic industry," Leipold told reporters.


He said only American and European companies benefit from fossil fuel projects.


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Carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases largely produced by the burning of fossil fuel -- mainly oil and coal -- trap heat in the atmosphere, raising global temperatures.


Severe weather such as hurricanes in the Caribbean or flooding in Bangladesh is likely to become more frequent due to global warming, a coalition of environmental groups, including Greenpeace, said in a report released in October. The report also said climate change causes gradual damage by creating longer droughts that harm subsistence farmers.


The report also said the developing world uses little renewable energy.


Red Constantino, Greenpeace's regional energy campaigner, said verbal support by the World Bank and the Manila-based ADB of renewable energy has not been reflected in project financing.


He said the World Bank's spends US$17 (euro12.82) for fossil-fuel energy projects for every US$1 (euro0.75) spent for renewable energy development.


"If they match their declarations and political announcements with regard to climate protection to actual financing, then the world would be a better place," Constantino said.


A spokesman for the ADB, who requested anonymity, admitted the bank supports fossil-fuel projects, especially in countries where the energy source is abundant, such as China, which has coal reserves.


"But we always make sure that these projects include technology that minimizes pollution," he said. "On the other hand, we also support renewable energy projects," he said, adding that the bank could this year approve a hydropower project. He didn't elaborate.


Constantino said the Philippines has the potential to produce 70,000 megawatts of electricity through wind power, about seven times its current consumption, but there is little funding to fully develop it.


Leipold acknowledged that investors in power generation will go where it is profitable.


"Investors will follow the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, that is why it is so important that they take the lead. If they say, 'Yes this is a viable sector,' the investors will follow," he said.


Source: Associated Press


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