WASHINGTON - Organizations from 40 countries called on leaders of the developing world yesterday to oppose World Bank plans to establish a "Clean Technology Fund" that they fear will have little or no impact on halting global warming.
"The Clean Technology Fund [includes] no definition of clean technology," said Kenny Bruno, international program director for Oil Change International, one of the signatory groups.
By leaving definitions of key terms hazy, the groups argue, the World Bank leaves the door open to use scarce resources in support of energy initiatives likely to have only a minor impact on climate change.
"What they are really proposing is a 'slightly less dirty' technology fund, which will include financing of coal plants that are somewhat less polluting than the dirtiest plants out there," Bruno charged.
More than 120 environment, human rights, faith-based, and indigenous rights groups from countries as diverse as Argentina, Belarus, Sweden, and Togo issued a joint statement urging developing country governments to reject the World Bank plan until several major issues are resolved.
At the 2005 Gleneagles meeting of the "G-8" industrialized countries, the World Bank was tasked with designing a plan to boost investment in clean energy worldwide. But instead of supporting the development of innovative, forward-thinking technologies the Bank has plowed more money than ever into fossil fuel extraction, according to its own statistics.
"The World Bank is spectacularly unqualified to manage climate funds due to their long-term practice of financing carbon emissions from oil and gas," said Brent Blackwelder, president of the U.S. division of Friends of the Earth, a global environmental advocacy group.
Blackwelder will testify today at a Congressional hearing, pointing out that investing in more coal production in India and China, even if new plants are marginally cleaner than existing plants, represents a health risk for local populations and will "significantly increase the total load of carbon emissions to the atmosphere."
The groups also expressed concern that putting the World Bank in charge of a new lending mechanism will undermine existing agreements made at a global climate change meeting in Bali in late 2007, diverting money away from the globally agreed "Adaptation Fund" intended to support the transfer of clean energy technology to the developing world.
Instead, the Bank plan foresees new Climate Investment Funds (CIFs), loans to developing countries for technology transfer and to help them adapt to changes brought about by global warming.
This is "inappropriate," say the groups, since the bulk of emissions contributing to climate change come from industrialized countries. In other words, they argue, CIFs would increase the debt of poor countries trying to mitigate the impact of emissions by rich countries.
Instead, funding for technology transfer should be channeled through the established UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the groups say, agreeing with Blackwelder that, "as an institution that manages development assistance, not climate change, the World Bank is the wrong home for a Clean Technology Fund."
© 2008 One World