Donors pledge $6.1 billion to climate change funds

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Industrialized countries pledged more than $6.1 billion on Friday to international investment funds aimed at helping developing countries adopt cleaner technologies and mitigate growth in greenhouse gas emissions, the World Bank said.

The first projects to benefit from grants, highly concessional loans and loan guarantee instruments from the Climate Investment Funds are expected to be announced in early 2009, the World Bank said.

Representatives of 10 countries -- Australia, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland Britain and the United States -- attended a donor conference hosted by the bank on Friday.

The United States has pledged $2 billion over three years, while Britain announced a commitment of 800 million pounds ($1.47 billion). Japan pledged up to $1.2 billion.

“These funds are all about demonstrating that low-carbon development and climate resilient development can happen,” Andrew Steer, director general at Britain’s Department for International Development, said in a statement. “They will allow us to get on with helping developing countries with their efforts on climate action.”

Two trust funds are being created under the Climate Investment Funds, which will be administered by the World Bank and by multilateral development banks.

The Clean Technology Fund will invest in projects and programs in developing countries that contribute to the demonstration, deployment, and transfer of low-carbon technologies. The projects or programs must have a significant potential for long-term greenhouse gas savings.

The idea behind this fund, promoted heavily by U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, was to bridge the cost gap between newer, cleaner technologies, such as wind farms in the power sector, and cheaper, but older and dirtier technologies, such as coal-fired power plants.

The second fund, the Strategic Climate Fund, will be broader and more flexible in scope. It will serve as an overarching fund for various programs to test innovative approaches to climate change.

The first program under the strategic fund will work with several developing countries to study and develop strategies for dealing with the current effects of climate change, such as drought, tidal surges and agricultural problems. The research will help these countries better prepare for climate change in their future development, the World Bank said.

Editing by Mohammad Zargham