Copenhagen: Soros Proposes $100B Climate Fund

COPENHAGEN — George Soros, the billionaire investor and philanthropist who plans to invest more than $1 billion of his own money into clean energy technology, has an idea about how to solve the financing gap between what poor nations say they urgently need to adapt to climate change, and the $10 billion per year that developing countries seem willing to pony up: get it from the International Monetary Fund.

During a press conference at the Copenhagen climate talks, Soros said that the current $10 billion proposal from the developed world is “not sufficient” and that the gap between what developing countries want and developed nations are likely to give “could actually wreck the conference.” His idea is to move $100 billion from the IMF, which is being used for financial systems that have been hit by the economic downturn, to help countries mitigate and adapt to climate change.

All week in Copenhagen the developing nations that are already being hit by the effects of climate change — many of them tiny, island nations like Tuvalu, Micronesia and the Maldives — have been calling for countries in the developed world to decrease their greenhouse gas emissions and step forward with increased contributions for helping the most vulnerable nations adapt to the effects of climate change. The UN has suggested that $10 billion per year should be put into a fund initially (with more investment needed over time), and the Obama administration has said it will contribute “its fair share” to that $10 billion per year.

Soros acknowledged that it might be difficult to get congressional approval on such an issue. President Obama plans to arrive in Copenhagen towards the end of next week when the heads of state will do the final negotiations over an agreement for countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

Back in October Soros announced that he plans to invest more than $1 billion into green technologies, marking the latest move by a high profile investor who hasn’t commonly been connected to the cleantech space. The billionaire investor has already made a couple later stage investments in clean power, including clean coal company Powerspan, and cellulosic ethanol company Qteros. At that conference in October he said he would “look for profitable opportunities,” but “will also insist that the investments make a real contribution to solving the problem of climate change.”

Image courtesy of Flickr user New America Foundation (Creative Commons)

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