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. Greenpeace Urges ADB To Stop Funding Fossil Fuel Projects

Greenpeace activists unfurl a banner at the Hussain Sagar Lake with the iconic Buddha statue as a backdrop in Hyderabad, 04 May 2006. Greenpeace challenged Asian Development Bank delegates of their responsibility to invest in clean energy through this protest and borrowed words from a Buddhist tenet. The banner read that there are only two mistakes one can make in fighting climate change: not starting,and not going all the way. Photo courtesy of Noah Seelam and AFP.
by Staff Writers
Hyderabad, India (AFP) May 12, 2006
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) can boost the fight against climate change by curbing funds for fossil fuel projects and supporting renewable energy, environmental watchdog Greenpeace International said Thursday.

In a report titled "Irrelevance or Leadership," Greenpeace said if the ADB continued to fund coal-based projects it could fail in its mission to reduce poverty and promote development.

"The main cause of climate change is our reliance on fossil fuels -- coal, oil and gas -- to produce energy and the solution is to shift to clean, renewable energy such as biomass, geothermal power plants and wind power," it said.

According to the Global Wind Energy Council, a body promoting wind power, the industry clocked 14 billion dollars in sales in 2005 but less than 10 percent of it was in Asia, the world's fastest growing power market.

"Coal consumption in the Asia-Pacific region is increasing massively ... it is not surprising that 2005 registered one of the largest temperature increases on record according to data from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration," Greenpeace said.

Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere stood at their highest "in 650,000 years" and rapidly growing nations such as China and India need to bring down their emissions soon, said the report released during the ABD annual meeting in this southern Indian city this week.

Renewable energy projects need financial and policy support to create a sustainable market, it said.

The total amount ADB invested on nine Asian fossil fuel projects during the last six years was 1.54 billion dollars or 26 percent of its energy portfolio while renewable energy and energy efficiency got only 4.1 percent, Greenpeace said.

India joined the 1997 Kyoto Protocol of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in August 2002 to cut greenhouse emissions.

It is the only international accord that aims at reducing volumes of "greenhouse gas" pollution, the carbon by-product of burning fossil fuels that is storing up solar heat in the atmosphere.

Britain wants to see a world-wide consensus on global warming that goes beyond the disputed protocol and puts China and India -- both economically booming -- at the heart of the issue.

The Greenpeace report urged the ADB to encourage developing member nations to set "binding, ambitious renewable energy and energy efficiency targets" and said continued financing of fossil fuel power plants will undermine the bank's efforts to achieve sustainable development.

The ADB on Wednesday said it would earmark one billion dollars by 2008 to fund renewable energy projects.

"The ADB energy portfolio must be directed soley to renewable energy projects and energy efficiency," it said.

"At this historic crossroads, with the energy-driven impacts of climate change poised to hit Asia's poorest the hardest, which direction will the ADB take?" it said. "The time for leadership is now."

K. Srinivas, climate change campaigner at Greenpeace India, said there were only two mistakes one could make in fighting climate change.

"Not starting and not going all the way. The ADB is guilty of both," Srinivas said.

"They have taken only the most cursory initial steps towards investing in renewable energy and are far from committed to going all the way to prevent climate change."

Source: Agence France-Presse

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