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U.N. climate fund sets November goal for first cash pledges


(Reuters) - The U.N. funding vehicle for helping developing nations tackle climate change has set a November goal to receive its first round of cash pledges, a move hailed as a major step towards a global pact in 2015.

The 24-strong board of the Green Climate Fund, set up to help channel at least $100 billion a year by 2020 from governments and the private sector, set a loose deadline after agreeing several procedural steps during four days of talks in Songdo, South Korea.

Getting money flowing towards schemes such as building solar power plants or deploying flood management systems is seen as crucial to getting over 130 developing nations to sign a U.N. climate pact in late 2015.

But rich nations such as those in the European Union, Japan and the United States had been reluctant to donate without clear rules to ensure the cash would be spent wisely.

Environmental campaigners and investor groups said this week's meeting put the fund on track to receive money ahead of December's U.N. climate talks in Lima, Peru and to start deploying cash by early next year.

"It is an important step forward in the context of the climate negotiations - one less excuse for developed countries to delay putting in some money. The pressure is on," said Brandon Wu of ActionAid, who was at the meeting as an observer.

The board, drawn equally from nations classed as developed and developing, agreed basic principles on how the fund will operate, as well as who could donate and apply for the cash.

But it ducked thornier issues such as whether wealthier nations such as China could apply, if money could be spent on coal or gas-fired power plants or the role of multilateral financial institutions such as the World Bank.

"There are a lot of finer details still to fill in ... politically it will now be very challenging for major developed countries not to pledge funds by November," said Janet Redman of U.S.-based Institute for Policy Studies, also an observer at the meeting.

In a major concern for campaigners and some developing nations, the board also failed to set an overall target for the amount to be pledged by November.

The U.N.'s climate chief Christiana Figueres said the initial funding should be at least $10 billion and called on governments to put forward a pipeline of international joint projects that the fund could finance.

(Reporting by Ben Garside and Megan Rowling, editing by David Evans)

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