The United Nations Development Programme has launched two major trust funds to help countries pursue environmentally sound policies and promote energy as an engine for economic growth.NEW YORK, New York, US, 2001-11-13 [SolarAccess.com] The new funds will complement existing global efforts by providing a window for the donor community to address local environment and energy needs that currently are not eligible for financing from other funds. The financial target for each of the new trust funds is US$60 million over a period of three years. “The new trust funds underscore the fact that energy and the environment remain one of UNDP’s core development priorities,” says UNDP administrator Malloch Brown. “They also highlight the essential role that energy services and environmental preservation play in the global efforts to reduce poverty.” The Thematic Trust Fund for Energy for Sustainable Development will help countries to produce and use energy in ways that are economically, socially and environmentally sustainable, ensuring that energy becomes an important tool for development. The fund will focus on national policy frameworks, rural energy services, clean energy technologies and new financing mechanisms to support sustainable energy. Two billion people across the globe lack access to electricity, while one third of the planet remains dependent on traditional fuels, such as wood, dung and agricultural residue, to meet daily heating and cooking needs. Worldwide, 87 percent of UNDP’s country operations have programs dealing with energy and environment issues as a means to support poverty reduction and sustainable development. In addition, the UNDP has announced approval by the Global Environment Facility of a US$60 million program to introduce fuel cell-powered buses in the mass transit systems of six major cities in developing countries, a step towards reducing urban air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. The five-year program will provide Beijing, Cairo, Mexico City, New Delhi, Sao Paulo and Shanghai with 46 buses powered by fuel cells that operate on hydrogen, in a program to assess the viability of the technology in crowded megacities. “UNDP has always been keen to support innovative projects that will help resolve the severe air pollution problems faced by many cities around the world,” says Brown, “The challenge now is in exploring ways and means to commercialize this promising technology for widespread use in developing countries.” The program targets the largest markets for urban transit buses in the world. Developing countries account for 70 percent of the global demand for buses, and studies indicate that if all diesel buses in developing countries were replaced by 2020 with fuel cell buses, this could eliminate 440 megatonne of carbon dioxide emissions each year. In countries where hydrogen fuel can be derived from renewable energy, zero GHG emissions would be produced to power the buses.