Author: Dafydd Elis

Steven Chu in Copenhagen (Image by: Andy Revkin)

Steven Chu in Copenhagen (Image by: Andy Revkin)

The US’s Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced a new stream of funding for low-energy technologies here in Copenhagen yesterday.

The money is being offered as the result of discussions at the Major Economies Forum (MEF) at L’Aquila, Italy, earlier this year.

The money is for five years, and will be distributed over four different programmes. One will focus on solar-powered lighting using LEDs; another will provide practical and economic support to low-income countries to deploy renewable energy technologies. The other two programmes focus on improving energy efficiency in developed countries’ products and on providing information about clean technology potential globally.

Of these, the bulk of the funding will go to the renewable energy funding – $250m of the $350m announced. In fact, much of this money is not new. $200m of it had already been pledged by the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland.

While this funding might go a little way to filling a near-term gap in financing for technology transfer and development, the short five-year duration of the programme announced and the relatively small sums involved ($70m a year between more than seven major economies) is small fry even compared to the $10billion per year committed by the EU to adaptation funding last week.

More fundamentally, a long-term and economically sizable mechanism for supporting technology transfer will need to be developed as part of a post-Kyoto agreement. This has been under discussion over the last two years as part of the Bali agreement, and featured in the draft negotiation text issued last week.

Exactly how this will look once this week’s negotiations are done remains to be seen.

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