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REPORT SLAMS
WORLD BANK ROLE
IN CLEAN ENERGY

WASHINGTON - The World Bank is lagging behind global efforts to promote clean energy instead of leading them and rarely considers climate change strategies when lending for projects in developing countries, a new report said on Monday.

The report by environmental advocacy group Friends of the Earth, urged the bank to rethink its role in promoting clean energy, amid booming energy demand in fast-growing developing nations. "Based on an examination of publicly available documents for World Bank Group energy lending, the bank has failed to adequately fund and create policies to push the development of clean energy and has failed to meet even its own commitments," the report said.

"This failure to adequately fund clean energy misses a tremendous opportunity to use these energy sources to promote development and poverty alleviation, and it continues the Bank's long-standing over-investment in harmful energy sources."

The report came on the eve of a meeting in London of the Group of Eight industrial nations to discuss climate change and clean energy. It will be chaired by British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The World Bank was asked by the G8 in July to develop a new global framework for climate change that would remain effective long beyond the 2012 expiration of the Kyoto Protocol.

Friends of the Earth said by its own calculations World Bank funding for clean energy in fiscal year 2005 totaled $223 million -- an increase of 7 percent over the previous year. This was less than half of the Bank's target set last year to increase spending on clean energy by 20 percent each year for the next five years, the report said.

The environmental group urged the bank to find ways to pursue technologies for clean energy in developing countries through new forms of financing such as grants and credits.

It also called for the bank to promote clean renewable technologies like wind and solar power, rather than to support environmentally harmful hydro, oil and coal projects.

"The bank has not seriously considered mitigation of climate change impacts of its projects in the past, and, in spite of acknowledgments by world governments that climate change is a critical problem facing developing countries, there have been relatively few subsidies for clean energy sources," the report said.

In response, the World Bank released a fact box of its lending for renewable energy. It said funding for new clean energy and energy efficiency projects increased to $299 million in fiscal 2005 -- which exceeds the target of $251 million made at a June 2004 meeting in Bonn.

It said it doubled its renewable energy and energy efficiency commitments in the fiscal year ending June 2005 to $748 million from $339 million the previous year.

Provided by: Planet Ark

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