* Emerging economies big on emissions, short on investment
* Huge sums needed to help them leapfrog fossil-fuel power
* Energy transition risks being divisive, not inclusive
Oct 5 (Reuters) - The COP26 global climate conference will
miss its goal of weaning the world off fossil fuels unless
developing economies heavily reliant on coal are given the help
they need to adapt, decision-makers told a Reuters climate
conference on Tuesday.
Usha Rao-Monari, associate administrator of the U.N.
Development Programme, said less than a fifth of global
investment in clean energy currently went to help the poorest
two-thirds of the world's population.
She said greenhouse gas emissions from power plants in the
industrial world had fallen 20% since 2012 but coal, one of the
dirtiest fuels, still accounted for 44% of power consumption in
emerging economies, where emissions had in turn jumped 20%.
Rao-Monari said that out of an estimated $90 trillion that
needed to be spent on infrastructure to help the world meet 2030
emissions goals, two-thirds should go to emerging countries - in
many cases to prevent them locking in ostensibly cheaper
long-term investments, such as polluting coal-fired power
Makhtar Diop, managing director of the World Bank's
investment arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC),
said it and other multilateral lenders were working to make
green investments in emerging economies "bankable".
This involved developing innovative financial structures to
"de-risk" green projects for private sector investors.
"I believe that in the future, all activity related to
climate change will be perceived as much less risky than it was
in the past," he said.
Inger Andersen, executive director of the U.N. Environment
Programme, said it was critical that the finance industry
started thinking longer-term to support the transition away from
fossil fuels, and that a global carbon market taking account of
the full impact of emissions would help.
"Right now, carbon is way too cheap, its ridiculous," she
POWER TO THE PEOPLE
Francesco Starace, chief executive of Europe's biggest
utility firm, Italy's Enel, said the transition from
fossil fuels had to include making sure all people on Earth had
access to electricity - and that meant clean, affordable and
The 800 million people who lack access to affordable energy
"won't care about the climate" if their need for power continues
to be an existential question for their well-being, he said.
Spanish Energy and Environment Minister Teresa Ribera said
she hoped COP26 would reinforce the rich world's commitment to
spend $100 billion a year on the energy transition in emerging
nations, and also ensure it went to climate-friendly projects.
Rich nations first committed to the $100 billion figure at
COP16 in 2009 but the 2020 deadline set then has come and gone
without the target ever being hit.
Ribera also called for action on the issue of "loss and
damage" - the demand of poorer countries for an agreed basis to
assess liability and compensation for the harm done to the
climate, largely by the rich, industrialised world.
"In the Glasgow conference, adaptation and loss and damage,
to my mind, will be the very key milestone to what extent we are
credible in terms of this type of solidarity and credible
solutions," she said.
The IFC's Diop also said that getting enough resources,
collectively, to the countries that needed to adapt most because
of desertification or coastal erosion was one of the biggest
challenges facing the decision-makers at COP26.
Ahead of the talks, which kick off in Glasgow, Scotland, on
Oct. 31, global business leaders and politicians are taking part
in the Reuters Impact conference to discuss efforts to mitigate
climate change and drive sustainable growth.
For Enel's Starace, who has spent years turning the utility
into a green powerhouse, one of the key questions for COP26 and
beyond was whether the inevitable transition from fossil fuels
would be turbulent or orderly - and therefore also inclusive.
"Transitions typically are not inclusive, they are
divisive," he said.
To watch the Reuters Impact conference, please register here
(Reporting by Isla Binnie, Tom Arnold, Stephen Jewkes, Jon
Harman, Simon Jessop and Andrea Januta; Writing by Kevin Liffey;
Editing by David Clarke)