COPENHAGEN - China can become a powerful force to help developing nations fight both climate change and poverty with low-cost exports of wind or solar technologies, the head of the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) said.
Climate change is not only the paramount environmental challenge of our time, it's also a huge development issue, Helen Clark told Reuters on the sidelines of a December 7-18 U.N. conference trying to work out a new U.N. climate pact.
We have to aim for green and inclusive growth, she said. China could be a big part of the solution with new green technology exports, such as wind turbines, solar panels and other low-carbon technologies.
When (China) applies its mind to getting these goods out there at a competitive price I think it will be extremely powerful. They have already emerged as a major exporter of wind energy, she said.
China had an ability to do it cheaper and more widespread than before, Clark, a former New Zealand prime minister, said of production of green technology exports.
Developing nations say they are most at risk from global warming that the U.N. panel of climate experts predicts will disrupt food and water supplies and cause more powerful storms, heatwaves, species extinctions and rising ocean levels.
China, the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases ahead of the United States, could also work out models for greener cities in the developing world.
By 2030 it's estimated that China will have 350 million more people living in cities than it has today, Clark said. The opportunity for planned urbanization around sustainable city models is there.
Developing countries say that they will do more to fight global warming under a new U.N. pact meant to be agreed at a summit of more than 110 leaders in Copenhagen on Friday. But they say that ending poverty remains their overriding concern.
You cannot divorce the climate change issues from poverty reduction, said Clark. We believe fundamentally that you won't reduce poverty if the world is destroying ecosystsms on which we all depend.
She said that a draft final text for Copenhagen should make more reference to the goal of ending poverty.
There's a bit of work to do on that, she said. It has to have a reference to sustainable development and poverty reduction. It has to be a deal for development.
Developing countries have not come here to sign a deal that is just good for the environment, she added.
She also said that planned start-up funds of $10 billion a year for 2010-12, requested by the United Nations, were a fraction of long-term needs to help the developing world combat climate change and adapt to harmful impacts.
(Editing by Dominic Evans)