September 9, 2010 / 5:07 PM / 9 years ago

World Bank appoints clean energy "czar"

* Second big World Bank hire in sector in recent months

* Bank has been criticized for recent coal plant loan

WASHINGTON, Sept 9 (Reuters) - The World Bank on Thursday said it has appointed a California professor to lead its efforts to foster growth of alternative energy programs in developing countries.

Daniel Kammen, an energy professor at the University of California, Berkeley, will be chief technical specialist for renewable energy and energy efficiency, the bank said.

The position was created amid unprecedented demand from developing countries for support to address development and climate change as interlinked challenges, the bank said.

Responsibilities of the job include responding to the hurdles in providing energy to the 1.5 billion people in the world who do not have access to clean, reliable and affordable energy services, the bank said said.

“More than ever, our clients and countries are looking for solutions as they put in place economic growth and poverty reduction policies for their citizens today while taking into account the needs of the planet tomorrow,” said Inger Andersen, World Bank vice president for sustainable development

Some have criticized the bank recently for providing loans for fossil-fuel powered plants such as a $3.75 billion loan for a coal-fired plant being developed by South African state utility Eskom.

The United States, the Netherlands and Britain, all major donors to the World Bank, said in April they abstained from supporting the loan due to environmental and other reasons.

The bank is beefing up its climate and alternative energy staff as it supports action to limit deforestation and offers financing to start projects designed to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

In June, the bank hired the UK national Andrew Steer for the new job of special envoy on climate change. Steer oversees more than $6 billion in projects in the bank’s Climate Investment Funds to fight the worst effects of global warming.

Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by David Gregorio

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