U.N. Green Fund gets $9.3 billion in pledges at Berlin conference

By Madeline Chambers BERLIN (Reuters) - Donor nations pledged up to $9.3 billion on Thursday to a U.N. fund to help developing countries tackle climate change, but environmental campaigners said the funds fell short of what they want. The U.N. Green Climate Fund (GCF) is a major part of a plan agreed in 2009 whereby rich countries agreed to give $100 billion a year from both public and private sources from 2020 to help developing nations reduce carbon emissions and adapt to a changing global climate. The United Nations has set an informal target of $10 billion in initial contributions for the GCF this year, a goal that Germany - host of Thursday's conference - said was now within sight. Developing countries are pushing for $15 billion. "I think everyone had hoped there would be more," the World Bank's President Jim Yong Kim said, noting however that he was "very encouraged" by the pledges. Greenpeace hailed the pledges as "a first and important step" but rapped Australia, Russia and others for making none. "While climate change is developing faster than expected, the financial support for those who are the most affected still evolves at a snail's pace," Greenpeace Germany's political unit head, Stefan Krug, said. Marlene Moses of Nauru, chair of the Alliance of Small Island States at U.N. climate negotiations, called the pledges "still well short" of the target. The pledges are seen as vital to pave the way for a U.N. climate deal meant to be agreed in late 2015 in Paris. That deal will aim to limit a rise in average global temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times. Temperatures have already risen by about 0.9 C and are in part to blame for disasters such as heatwaves, mudslides and rising sea levels, scientists say. Thursday's pledges included money that had already been announced, such as up to $1.5 billion from Japan and up to $3 billion from the United States. New pledges included $1.1 billion from Britain and $310 million from Italy. Officials said they expected Canada to join in by the end of the year and hoped Austria and Belgium would also contribute. "This is a very important historic day," GCF's Executive Director, Hela Cheikhrouhou, said, describing the conference as "very fruitful". (Additional reporting by Alister Doyle in Oslo; Editing by Gareth Jones)