Intensifying its efforts to curb the greenhouse gases blamed for global warming, the United Nations today launched a new mechanism to generate significant reductions in such emissions in central and eastern European transition economies through a system of “carbon credits” acquired by developed countries.
Under the joint implementation (JI) mechanism, launched by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), developed countries can acquire credits from emission-reducing projects in other industrialized countries, in particular central and eastern Europe, allowing them to meet their commitments under the Kyoto Protocol.
The Protocol requires 35 industrialized countries and the European Community to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 5 per cent below 1990 levels in its first commitment period between 2008 and 2012. The United States, the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, is not a party.
“JI will generate real projects which will help green the economies of central and eastern Europe,” UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer said. “With its launch, we can expect emission reductions in the order of several hundred million tonnes of CO2 by the end of the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.”
He drew a parallel to the Kyoto Protocol’s clean development mechanism (CDM), which permits industrialized countries to invest in sustainable development projects in developing countries, and thereby generate tradable emission credits.
“The CDM got off to a great start last year,” he said. “We expect JI to be similarly successful. While smaller in terms of its emissions reduction potential, it is an equivalent to the CDM with regard to cooperation among countries that have targets under the Kyoto Protocol and a credible alternative to the much-feared ‘hot air’.”
‘Hot air’ refers to the concern that some countries will have excess emission allowances under the Kyoto Protocol without undertaking specific efforts to reduce emissions and that they could then flood the carbon market by selling them at lower price, reducing the incentive for other countries to cut emissions.
The chair of the UNFCCC’s JI Supervisory Committee (JISC), Daniela Stoycheva, said her Committee would ensure the environmental integrity of the projects. “We will ensure that only those projects are verified that would not have come about without the Kyoto mechanism being in place,” she said.
The first JI projects, ranging from wind farms to forestry projects, are expected to begin undergoing the UNFCCC approval process in the run-up to and during the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference in Nairobi from 6 to 17 November.