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$1 Billion UN ‘Climate Fund’ For Coal Power Plants

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KARL RITTER and MARGIE MASON Associated Press

About $1 billion in loans under a U.N. initiative for poor countries to tackle global warming is going toward the construction of power plants fired by coal, the biggest human source of carbon dioxide emissions.

Japan gave the money to help its companies build three such plants in Indonesia and listed it with the United Nations as climate finance, The Associated Press has found. Japan says these plants burn coal more efficiently and are therefore cleaner than old coal plants.

However, they still emit twice as much heat-trapping carbon dioxide as plants running on natural gas. Villagers near the Cirebon plant in Indonesia also complain that stocks of shrimp, fish and green mussels have dwindled.

Japan’s coal projects highlight the lack of rules to steer the flow of climate finance from rich to poor countries ? a critical part of U.N. talks on global warming, which resume Monday in Lima,Peru. There is no watchdog agency that ensures the money is spent in the most effective way, and no definition of what climate finance is.

Japan, a top contributor of climate finance, denies any wrongdoing and has done nothing illegal. There are no rules against counting such projects as climate finance in the U.N. system.

“There are countries … that cannot afford to have other methods than coal,” Japanese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Takako Ito said. “For these countries, we’d like to provide the best method of reducing carbon dioxide.”

However, U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres, who was unaware that the Japanese-funded coal plants in Indonesia were labeled as climate finance, said “there is no argument” for supporting such projects with climate money.

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