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U.S. will help fund cleaner energy

Mon., Dec. 14, 2009

A protester  stands next to Danish policemen during a rally in Copenhagen, Denmark, on Sunday.  (Associated Press)
A protester stands next to Danish policemen during a rally in Copenhagen, Denmark, on Sunday. (Associated Press)

COPENHAGEN, Denmark – Energy Secretary Steven Chu will announce today an international plan to deploy clean technology in developing countries, a $350 million, five-year effort that will include such things as putting solar lanterns in poor households and promoting advanced energy-efficient appliances worldwide, administration officials said.

The Climate Renewables and Efficiency Deployment Initiative is an attempt by the United States and other industrialized nations to help curb energy consumption in countries that will help determine if global greenhouse emissions keep rising or level off.

“No matter what pledges are made here in Copenhagen, global emissions cannot be cut without widespread deployment of clean energy technologies,” said Paul Bledsoe, a spokesman with the Washington, D.C.-based National Commission on Energy Policy.

The initiative – which includes $85 million from the United States and donations from industrialized nations such as Italy and Australia – aims to make energy-saving technology that already exists cheap enough to penetrate markets in India, parts of Africa and elsewhere. It is distinct from the major financing package the United States is expected to unveil this week as part of a broader climate deal.

Michael Levi, an energy and environment fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, said the launch was unlikely to affect ongoing talks here, “but it will have a big impact on climate change and actual energy use.”

In Copenhagen, street protests pushing for a more ambitious climate agreement continued as a few dozen ministers met behind closed doors with Connie Hedegaard, the Danish minister chairing the U.N.-sponsored climate conference.

The question of how much rich nations are willing to pay poor ones to secure emission cuts continued to dominate the talks Sunday. Negotiators working on a provision that aims to curb deforestation, which accounts for roughly 15 percent of global greenhouse-gas emissions, were forced to take out language calling for cutting deforestation in half by 2050 because of uncertainty surrounding financing.

But groups dedicated to preserving tropical forests, such as Conservation International and the Nature Conservancy, said the language was still in flux and might be restored.

Chu, the fourth member of President Obama’s Cabinet to arrive here, will address attendees at the climate talks today. The plan to deploy clean technology – which comes out of the ongoing meeting of the world’s biggest greenhouse-gas emitters known as the Major Economies Forum – aims to lower the costs of solar home systems and lanterns; enforce quality control for these products; and coordinate international standards, labels and incentives for high-efficiency appliances.

It will also include $50 million for a renewable-energy program under the World Bank, which will advise poor countries on renewable-energy strategies and help fund capital costs for renewable ventures.


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