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Clinton, cities, unveil $5 bln buildings energy plan

By Michelle Nichols and Timothy Gardner (Reuters) - May 16, 2007

Five global banks will raise $5 billion in loans to make existing buildings up to 50 percent more energy efficient with New York, London, Tokyo, Sao Paulo and Johannesburg among the first 15 cities to take part.

Under the plan, unveiled on Wednesday by former President Bill Clinton, city governments and building owners will repay the loans plus interest with savings made from reduced energy costs created by the energy-efficient retrofit.

“Climate change is a global problem that requires local action,” Clinton said in a statement, adding that businesses, banks and cities would “save money, make money, create jobs and have a tremendous collective impact on climate change.”

Citigroup, UBS, Deutsche Bank, ABN AMRO and JPMorgan Chase have agreed to arrange $1 billion each for the Clinton Climate Initiative’s Energy Efficiency Building Retrofit Program.

The money will be used to fund the building make-overs at no net cost. It more than doubles the amount for energy-saving building retrofits, said the Clinton Climate Initiative.

Energy service companies Honeywell, Johnson Controls, Siemens and Trane, owned by American Standard, have agreed to boost capacity to allow them to do large numbers of building make-overs and will financially guarantee energy savings from the projects.

New York, London, Tokyo, Bangkok, Johannesburg, Berlin, Chicago, Houston, Karachi, Melbourne, Mexico City, Rome, Sao Paulo, Seoul and Toronto have offered their municipal buildings for the first round of energy retrofits.

ENERGY CONSUMPTION

“Buildings consume 40 percent of the world’s energy and account for one third of greenhouse gases,” London Mayor Ken Livingstone said. “This procurement alliance will make it financially feasible for cities to radically cut emissions.”

“National governments still struggle to agree a way forward on global warming, but cities, which are responsible for around three-quarters of global greenhouse gas emissions, are today demonstrating the leadership and decisive action necessary to prevent catastrophic climate change,” he said in a statement.

In cities such as London and New York, buildings are responsible for nearly 70 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. Scientists say heat-trapping gases cause global warming, which could cause deadly floods, droughts and heat waves.

The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has found that global carbon dioxide emissions must fall 50 to 85 percent by 2050 to stop the planet from heating up more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit).

Along with city governments, the program is open to local banks and companies. The 15 cities committed so far have also agreed to provide incentives for private building owners to become more energy efficient.

The Clinton Climate Initiative said it would announce further deals in the coming months with companies that supply building materials and systems to lower the cost of their most energy efficient models.

“Mayors are responsible for coming up with pragmatic solutions and implementing them effectively — and this program will allow us to do that,” New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement.

The 15 cities are part of the C40 Large Cities Climate Group, which met for the second time in New York this week with the aim of sharing ideas and banding together to force a cut in the price of technology designed to combat global warming.