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U.S. Energy Secretary Announces $350M for Clean Energy Tech in Developing World

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In an initiative that we heard vaguely referenced over the weekend, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu has announced an international agreement that will see developed nations give $350 million, including $85 million from the U.S., to developing nations . Called the Renewables and Efficiency Deployment Initiative (REDI), the plan will fund technology in the developing world, including solar lanterns, standards and labels for energy efficient appliances, and online clean energy communication tools.

Given the current state of the negotiations in Copenhagen — African delegates have walked out of the talks for the time being over concerns that the Kyoto Protocol draft is being ignored — and the fact that there has been little progress on getting long term financial commitments from many developed nations to help developing nations mitigate and adapt to climate change, the REDI funds could be seen as a minor side note that falls flat.

The UN says that the developing world will need $10 billion per year in funding just to kick off the process of adaptation and mitigation of carbon emissions. The U.S. has agreed to give “its fair share” to that funding, but on Monday several high profile delegates said little had been decided on the issue of long term financing. Some are calling that $10 billion per year inadequate, including billionaire investor and philanthropist George Soros who last week presented an idea to move $100 billion from the International Monetary Fund to help the developing world fight global warming.

The developing world clearly needs a lot of funding and fast. Some of the nations in the developing world will be the first hit by the effects of climate change. Tiny island nations like Tuvalu, Micronesia and the Maldives made big headlines last week telling the world that adapting to climate change is literally an issue of survival. The African continent will be one of the first and hardest hit by water shortages exacerbated by climate change.

Image courtesy of D.Light.

4 Responses to “U.S. Energy Secretary Announces $350M for Clean Energy Tech in Developing World”

  1. I am glad some monies are being committed from the US. The European Commission has committed 3 billion as of early last week. Even Denmark offered an additional $240M last Thursday. The numbers being talked about in the plenary sessions now are $200B per year, and tensions are really high. Having the Africans walk out yesterday led to a 3 hour delay waiting around for the session to start (and this included Ministers from many countries and even the President of Maldives). The divide is wide and the fact that the US choses to not ratify Kyoto and wants to stat giving carbon reduction numbers as of 2005 as opposed to 1990 is part of the problem. 17% carbon reduction levels from 2005 levels proposed for US is I am told only 3% from Kyoto.

    As someone who has been here in Copenhagen since Monday last week, I must say this has been very disappointing. I listened to a talk from Steve Chu on Sunday and he said it was time the US did its part and he was cheered on, but then he went on to talk about technology solutions from the US. People now have the impression the US is only interested in exporting its clean technology rather than focus on its own cuts. And yes, this funding is a good step but in the context of the tensions in these negotiations, a drop in the ocean,

    14th Dec will start a day of intense negotiations and many NGO delegates will not even be allowed in. Whilst some nations seem to understand the urgency to have commitments made before their Heads of State come and that the world is waiting for a deal, other nations are still arguing procedure and transparency and insisting on Kyoto first then new commitment, so I think bulk of commitments will still be made at the last minute so it seems, and if at all.

  2. That’s an interesting development. It, in some ways parallels what’s going on in Copenhagen where developed countries are arguing that they can’t afford to fight climate change without funding from industrialized nations. At the end of the day, yes clean energy works but it’s also extremely expensive. For the most part, wind or utility-scale solar remains a “rich-country” technology. The DOE funding just announced is fairly modest but it is a start and it does highlight the ongoing issue of the North – South “clean energy gap”.