Poor nations demand climate funds

BONN, Germany (Reuters) - Rich and poor countries argued over how the West can deploy know-how to fight climate change in developing countries but not lose jobs at a U.N.-run climate conference in Germany on Tuesday.

A farmer burns a paddy field in Thailand's Phitsanuloke province, about 377 km (234 miles) north of Bangkok, March 29, 2008. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom

Poorer nations want the West to help them cut their emissions of planet-warming gases and prepare for climate change such as rising seas and more extreme weather because historically the rich are most responsible for those emissions.

Bangladesh still faces serious food shortages after last year’s floods and on Tuesday demanded help from the West to improve coastal defenses and fund technology to predict storms and deal with fall-out on its food and water supplies.

“Technology transfer from North to South should not promote transfer of old aged and inefficient technologies,” the Bangladesh delegate told officials from more than 170 countries.

Bonn is the second of eight meetings to agree by the end of next year a broader deal to fight climate change than the present Kyoto Protocol, whose first round expires in 2012.

Western funds and technology are at the centre of complex talks where rich countries want emerging economies like China and India to do more in a potentially expensive climate fight, including curbing carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels.


China, Brazil and Ghana called for developed nations to create a fund to buy rights for them to use breakthrough technologies -- for example to generate clean energy from the sun -- which many Western firms jealously guard fearing people will steal their innovation and then mass produce it.

Such companies use elaborate procedures when they do manufacture goods in China, for example not allowing any single member of the local staff to see all steps in the process.

“For the moment I have no idea how much that fund would be,” said the Chinese delegation in response to a U.S. query.

One way to generate the money could be from a rapidly growing global carbon market which analysts estimate was worth $64 billion last year.

The U.S. Senate is debating this week for the first time a climate change bill including proposals for a federal U.S. cap and trade scheme, which like an existing European scheme would force industry to buy permits to emit greenhouse gases.

Western governments could auction all such permits and give 10 percent of the proceeds to the climate fight, raising “many tens of billions of euros per year”, the Climate Action Network of environmental groups told the Bonn conference.