World Bank plans clean technology fund for poor

LONDON, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Poor countries will soon receive billions of dollars from a new World Bank fund to help them cut pollution, save energy and fight global warming, the international organisation said.

Developing countries such as India and China are already trying to reduce their carbon emissions, mainly to save on energy, but have baulked at doing more without technological help from Europe, Japan and the United States.

Most carbon dioxide heating the planet now is a result of western industrialisation, and developing countries want financial help to cut their own growing emissions.

"The fund will support publicly and privately financed projects that deploy technologies that can cut emissions, increase efficiency and save energy...(in) developing countries," the U.S., British and Japanese finance ministers said in the Financial Times on Friday.

The World Bank clean technology fund would receive some of the $2 billion in climate funds U.S. President George W. Bush announced last month, and part of the 800 million pounds ($1.56 billion) Britain pledged to "environmental transformation" last year, Henry Paulson, Alistair Darling and Fukushiro Nukaga said.

Japan last month announced a $10 billion package to support developing countries' fight against climate change but the finance ministers' letter did not detail how much of this would be channelled through the World Bank.

In a written response to questions from Reuters, the World Bank said, "It is expected that the formal announcement of the creation of the facility will be made soon."

"In addition to discussions with donor countries, talks have been or will shortly be undertaken with other interested parties, including other agencies in the U.N. system and the private sector."

The World Bank statement referred to "a strategic climate investment facility that would accelerate and scale up low carbon and climate-resilient investments in developing countries".

The three finance ministers said the fund would not be an alternative to U.N.-led talks to agree new emissions curbs to succeed measures now under the Kyoto Protocol from 2013, a concern in Europe.

"While the idea of a clean tech fund is welcome it should not be used to distract from or undermine the main event which is global negotiations on reducing carbon emissions," an EU source told Reuters, who said agreeing on binding emissions cuts was the top priority. (Additional reporting by Paul Taylor in Brussels; Editing by Caroline Drees)