U.S. to launch clean technology fund in 2008

WASHINGTON Mon Jan 14, 2008 4:31pm EST

The sun sets next to a smokestack from a coal-burning power station in Beijing January 9, 2008. The United States will press forward with a multibillion-dollar ''clean technology fund'' this year to help China and other developing countries finance advanced technologies to cut greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants, a top Treasury official said on Monday. REUTERS/David Gray

The sun sets next to a smokestack from a coal-burning power station in Beijing January 9, 2008. The United States will press forward with a multibillion-dollar ''clean technology fund'' this year to help China and other developing countries finance advanced technologies to cut greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants, a top Treasury official said on Monday.

Credit: Reuters/David Gray

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States will press forward with a multibillion-dollar "clean technology fund" this year to help China and other developing countries finance advanced technologies to cut greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants, a top Treasury official said on Monday.

The fund aims to "put a dent in the funding gap" between more expensive advanced technology that reduces pollution and energy use and older, cheaper technology, David McCormick, Treasury Undersecretary for International Affairs, said in prepared remarks at a leadership conference in La Jolla, California.

"We have already held discussions with potential donors with this fund and we look forward to establishing it later this year," McCormick said, adding that the United States will be one of the lead donors.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson first proposed the a fund for cleaner power generation and industrial technologies last year as part of plans to bring China, India and other major emerging economies into a comprehensive framework to limit emissions that contribute to global warming.

McCormick said many developing countries prefer to use the lowest-cost alternatives to stretch their resources in developing power and industrial infrastructure, and this often means using older, dirtier technology.

He said that through 2030 it may cost developing countries an additional $30 billion to switch to cleaner technology.

"That's $30 billion these countries need for technologies that are available today to fuel growth in an environmentally friendly way," McCormick said.

He said in addition to seeking more rapid deployment of clean technologies, the fund would help stimulate private-sector capital by making challenging clean energy projects more attractive investments and would help encourage emerging economy governments to adopt more environmentally friendly policies.

McCormick said China's rapid economic growth "has come at a terrible cost to its air, water and soil." He said China has 16 of the world's 20 most polluted cities.

The Treasury official said it was in the United States' national interest to help China address its environmental challenges, and said the Bush administration was working to do so through the semiannual "strategic economic dialogue" talks with Beijing.

Environmental cooperation between the two countries is expected to lead to more academic exchanges and commercialization of alternative energy sources, he said, adding that the United states aspires to eliminate trade barriers for environmental goods and services.

A cabinet-level U.S.-China environmental working group is being set up to put into effect a 10-year environmental cooperation plan agreed in December, he said.

McCormick's remarks did not mention anything regarding the foreign exchange value of China's yuan currency. The Treasury has for a long time put pressure on Beijing to allow its currency to rise in value more quickly.

(Reporting by David Lawder; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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