Obama Administration, Western Countries to Promote ‘Clean Energy’ for Poor Countries with $350 Million Plan

By Fred Lucas | December 14, 2009 | 5:49 PM EST

Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore gestures as he joins cabinet ministers from Nordic countries for discussion on Greenland's ice sheet at the UN Climate summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, Monday, Dec. 14, 2009. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

(CNSNews.com) – The Obama administration announced measures to help developing countries make better use of “clean energy technologies,” as part of a plan which will cost Western industrialized countries $350 million over the next five years.
The United States will pick up $85 million of that $350 million cost, the largest portion of any country involved, with the balance spread across Australia, Italy, the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland.
Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the initiatives from Copenhagen, Denmark, on Monday where the United Nations’ climate conference is being held. The initiatives are part of the Major Economic Forum on Energy and Climate (MEF) that President Barack Obama started in March as a partnership between wealthy and poor countries.
President Obama will arrive in Copenhagen later this week.
The administration’s announcement comes after the U.N.’s Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action drafted a proposal last week for Copenhagen that calls for developed Western countries to transfer money and technology to underdeveloped nations.
“Developed country Parties shall provide adequate, predictable and sustainable financial resources, technology and capacity-building to support the implementation of adaptation action in developing country Parties,” the U.N.’s draft proposal says.
The four measures in the U.N. plan fall under the heading “Climate REDI,” which stands for Renewable and Efficiency Deployment Initiatives.
The most costly program is the $250 million “Scaling up Renewable Energy Program,” or S-REP, which will be run through the World Bank. S-REP will “provide policy support and technical assistance to low-income countries developing national renewable energy strategies, and underwrite additional capital costs associated with renewable energy investments,” the White House statement said.
The United States will contribute $50 million to this initiative, while the balance will be paid for by the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland.
The remaining three initiatives are less expensive.
The “Solar and LED Energy Access Program” directs “affordable solar home systems and LED lanterns to those without access to electricity,” the White House release says. “The program will yield immediate economic and public health benefits by providing households with low-cost and quality-assured solar alternatives to expensive and polluting kerosene.”
The “Super-efficient Equipment and Appliance Deployment Program” will convene the countries participating in the Major Economic Forum to improve efficiency of appliances traded throughout the world.
The “Clean Energy Information Platform” establishes an online communication system between MEF countries to exchange technical resources and share other information, according to the White House.
These three programs will cost a combined $100 million over five years, the White House said, $35 million of which the United States will pay. The remainder will be covered by Italy and Australia.