U.S. pledges $85 million for renewable energy

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - The United States pledged on Monday to contribute $85 million to a $350 million multinational fund aimed at speeding up renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies in poor countries.

Student Arnaldo Vazquez from the Universidad de Puerto Rico cleans solar panels to maximize energy efficiency during the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon near the Washington Monument on the National Mall in Washington, October 10, 2009. REUTERS/Stefano Paltera/US Dept. of Energy Solar Decathlon/Handout

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu also announced a high-level meeting will be held in Washington next year of major developed countries’ energy ministers to discuss global deployment of clean energy technology.

Chu made the announcements on the sidelines of a December 7-18 international climate conference in Copenhagen.

The talks temporarily stalled on Monday when African countries walked out, accusing rich countries of trying to kill the U.N. Kyoto Protocol which set targets for emissions cuts by most industrialized countries.

Projects which the fund will support include a plan to speed affordable solar-generated lighting systems and LED lanterns to those without access to electricity.

Chu said the devices would eliminate air pollution from indoor kerosene lamps that he said contributes to 1.6 million deaths per year in poor countries.

Other facets of the programme are the encouragement of more energy-efficient appliances in developing countries and rich country information-sharing of clean energy technologies.

The White House said the financing would enhance a World Bank strategic climate fund that helps poor countries develop national renewable energy plans.

Italy, Australia, Britain, the Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland also are participating and already have promised funds. Speaking more broadly about U.S. efforts to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases associated with climate change, Chu said the Obama administration was serious about helping develop clean coal technology.

“What we want to see is the beginning of routine deployment hopefully within eight or 10 years,” Chu said.

Emissions from coal-burning power plants are considered a major contributor to global warming.

Editing By Dominic Evans