World Bank accused of climate change "hijack"
By Ed Cropley
BANGKOK (Reuters) - Developing countries and environmental groups accused the World Bank on Friday of trying to seize control of the billions of dollars of aid that will be used to tackle climate change in the next four decades.
"The World Bank's foray into climate change has gone down like a lead balloon," Friends of the Earth campaigner Tom Picken said at the end of a major climate change conference in the Thai capital.
"Many countries and civil society have expressed outrage at the World Bank's attempted hijacking of real efforts to fund climate change efforts," he said.
Before they agree to any sort of restrictions on emissions of the greenhouse gases fuelling global warming, poor countries want firm commitments of billions of dollars in aid from their rich counterparts.
The money will be used for everything from flood barriers against rising sea levels to "clean" but costly power stations, an example of the "technology transfer" developing countries say they need to curb emissions of gases such as carbon dioxide.
As well as the obvious arguments about how much money will be needed -- some estimates run into the trillions of dollars by 2050 -- rich and poor countries are struggling even to agree on a bank manager.
At the week-long Bangkok conference, the World Bank pushed its proposals for a $5-10 billion Clean Technology Fund, a $500 million "adaptation" fund and possibly a third fund dealing with forestry.
However, developing countries want climate change cash to be administered through the existing United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), which they feel is much less under the control of the Group of 8 (G8) richest countries.
"Generally we have been unpleasantly surprised by the funds," said Ana Maria Kleymeyer, Argentina's lead negotiator at the meeting.
"This is a way for the World Bank and its donor members to get credit back home for putting money into climate change in a way that's not transparent, that doesn't involve developing countries and that ignores the UNFCC process," she said.
(Editing by Michael Battye and Alex Richardson)