From: Lesley Wroughton, Reuters
Published October 16, 2007 12:32 PM

World Bank appeals for aid to tackle climate change

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The World Bank has called for more funding from donor countries to increase its work on climate change, as global development ministers prepare to meet this weekend to examine the bank's role in promoting clean energy, according to documents published ahead of the meetings.

The World Bank Development Committee, made up of development ministers from member countries, will meet on Sunday to examine the bank's global Clean Energy Investment Framework, which looks to improve access to clean energy while finding ways to finance low-carbon alternatives in developing countries.

The focus on climate change comes as the World Bank's new president, Robert Zoellick, develops a strategy to lead the poverty-fighting institution; he has emphasized more attention on environmental-related issues without compromising growth or poverty reduction in poor countries.

Increasing work on the environment would require donor countries to boost aid to the bank's fund for its poorest borrowers in year-long negotiations currently under way to cover the lending period between 2009 to 2011.

"Scaling up requires addressing the resource gap through further expansion of concessional finance," the bank said.

"Currently available mechanisms, while playing a very important role in financing action on climate change, are insufficient to meet the growing needs of developing countries," the bank said.

Overall lending by the World Bank for energy projects is expected to exceed $10 billion over a three-year period ending next July, compared with $7 billion between 2003 and 2005.

Global problems associated with global warming were boosted by last week's announcement that former U.S. Vice President Al Gore had won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on the environment.

Also, a U.N. meeting on climate change will be held in Bali in December to shape a global agreement for when the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.

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Such events, including a meeting of the Group of Eight industrialized nations in Japan next year, will further shape the World Bank's work on the environment, the bank said.

Developing countries worry that the climate change agenda of the world's richest nations could divert much-needed aid from projects that reduce poverty.

The World Bank said there was scope to increase its work on climate change that could address not only its dangers to the poor but could also accelerate investment in new clean air technologies.

"The development case for taking action on climate change is becoming more compelling and is making its way into developing countries' strategies," the bank said, citing new programs in China, Mexico and India.

The bank said private-sector involvement will also be critical if climate change is to be successfully tackled.

Last week, the World Bank approved a new fund that would pay developing countries hundreds of millions of dollars for protecting and replanting tropical forests, which store huge amounts of carbon, which causes climate change when it is released into the atmosphere.

The Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, will be part of the U.N. climate change talks in Bali. Unlike the Kyoto Protocol, which offers economic credits for replanting destroyed forests but excludes intact standing tropical forests, the World Bank facility could cover all tropical forests.

 

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