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U.N. urges quicker transfer of green technology to poorer countries

Nov 7, 2008 - The Associated Press

U.N. climate chief Yvo de Boer said Friday it is essential that industrialized countries speed up the transfer of clean energy technology to poorer ones to help tackle global warming.

De Boer, executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, said that if the world wants to control global warming it is vital that rich nations meet their obligations to give developing nations access to cleaner forms of technology.

"A lot of talk has been about the targets (to reduce greenhouse gas emissions), but not about the means which will make it possible," he said.

"If international technology transfer happens, countries like China will be able to take action which is not affordable to them at the moment," he added.

De Boer's comments came at the start of a two-day international conference in Beijing which will discuss how to aid the transfer of technology -- such as wind power, fuel cells and nuclear energy --from richer to poorer nations.

Industrialized nations have already made commitments to transfer technology to developing countries to help them cut greenhouse gas emissions, but poorer countries say little cash and help has so far been given.

The G77 group of developing nations, along with China, have already suggested that rich countries should pay 1 percent of their GDP into a fund to pay for clean energy technology for poorer countries.

Switzerland has also suggested funding technology transfer by levying a "carbon tax" per ton of greenhouse gases produced by countries, with poorer nations paying a lower rate than richer ones.

De Boer said that the process of negotiating a climate change treaty to take over from the Kyoto Protocol in 2012 will begin in earnest at a U.N. conference on global warming to be held in Poznan in Poland next month.

"If the world wants to keep climate change manageable the global economy really needs a rapid transformation to a green, low-emissions one. Such a transformation is inconceivable without environmentally sound technologies at its heart," he said.

"Given their historical responsibility for the problem it is essential that industrialized countries take the lead to reduce emissions and that they show real leadership. With President-elect (Barack) Obama, my hope is that the U.S. can take on a leadership role and take the negotiations forward," he added.

China produced a policy document on climate change last month, saying it will attempt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but that it needs the help of industrialized countries by giving it clean energy technology.

A Chinese government official responsible for climate change policy, Gao Guangsheng, also admitted that the level of emissions produced by China is now level with the world's biggest producer of greenhouse gases -- the United States.

China says it is a developing country which relies heavily on highly polluting coal for its energy needs, so help from richer countries is essential.

The Chinese government has also previously ruled out agreeing to any cap on its emissions in a future climate change pact, saying that developed countries should shoulder the biggest cuts while poorer nations attempt to reduce emissions where they can.