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16 March 2010

Philippines to host global forum on climate funding

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Multilateral donors and recipient countries will meet in Manila on Thursday as part of a global effort to help developed nations find a framework that will channel billions of dollars in investments to "green" projects, reported the Business World.

The focus will be on the nearly two-year-old Climate Investment Funds (CIF), a collaboration between multilateral agencies such as the World Bank and Asian Development Bank (ADB) and countries to bridge financing ahead of a post-2012 global climate change deal.

The Global Forum on Climate Investment comes three months after world leaders failed to reach a deal to extend the Kyoto climate pact during a conference in Copenhagen.

Plans to extend the Kyoto Protocol — the world’s main pact for fighting climate change — beyond 2012 hinge on bridging a divide between rich and poor countries over the cost of switching from carbon-intensive technologies.

The World Bank-initiated Climate Investment Funds, which has so far gathered nearly $6 billion in pledges, includes a sunset clause that will enable the closure of funds once a new financial architecture becomes effective under the United Nations regime. The UN will sit as an observer during this week’s forum.

But while its life was originally designed to be short-lived, the fund’s impact could be lasting, said Katherine Sierra, World Bank vice-president for sustainable development.

"While the negotiations [for a new climate deal] are ongoing, we want to give lessons to negotiators on how they can manage funds," Sierra said.

Multilateral banks are offering the CIF as a conduit in coursing some $30 billion committed by developed nations during the Copenhagen summit to help developing economies address climate change, said Samuel Tumiwa, principal planning and coordination specialist for the ADB’s regional and sustainable development department.

"We’ll be discussing in general the CIF as an instrument for climate change. What are the pros and cons? How will developed countries channel the money to developing countries? Shall they use the GEF? Or should they work bilaterally?" Tumiwa said, referring to the UN-backed Global Environment Fund.

"Or is the CIF a model that can be scaled up to be a conduit? We want to offer this as a model," he added.

The Philippines, together with Thailand and Vietnam, was among the first few nations that benefited from the multi-donor fund. Last October, the country drew $250 million from the CIF for its renewable energy and sustainable transport programs.

Broken down, $125 million will be used for solar power generation, $75 million for renewable energy and energy efficiency, and $50 million for mass transit systems that will mimic light rail transit but with buses.

Tumiwa said the projects would "hit the ground" in 12-18 months. The solar energy component of the project could be tweaked, upon the government’s recommendation, to address the power crisis in Mindanao, he added.

But the Philippines, while aiming to increase its renewable energy-based capacity, would likely rely on fossil fuels to immediately respond to the crisis in Mindanao, an Energy official said.

"The direction is going renewable but situations [such as] what we have now will call for the use of fossil fuel if needed," Assistant Secretary Mario C. Marasigan said in a telephone interview.

He said a key issue the Philippines would raise during the forum is energy security, noting that renewable energy projects normally take three years to enforce compared with eight months to a year for fossil fuel ventures.

Other recipient countries under the CIF scheme are Egypt, Mexico, Turkey, South Africa and Morocco. Multilateral donors are reviewing the investment plans of Indonesia, Colombia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan, Sierra said. The results of the deliberations are due this week, she added.


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