Projects that improve efficiency of fossil fuels to receive boost – UN

Projects that improve efficiency of fossil fuels to receive boost – UN

Projects boosting the burning efficiency of fossil fuels are now eligible to be registered under the United Nations-backed Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), which allows projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries and contribute to sustainable development to earn certified emission reduction credits (CERs).

The CDM Executive Board, which made this decision, has also approved a way to monitor emissions from these types of projects.

“Fossil fuel will remain a big part of the world’s energy mix for decades to come,” said Hans Jürgen Stehr, the Board’s chair. “It’s essential that we burn that fuel as efficiently as possible.”

In reaching its conclusion, the Board faced a challenge in finding a means to prevent these projects from inadvertently prolonging the use of fossil fuel or competing against renewable sources of energy.

The Board overcame this hurdle by establishing a feature limiting the number of CERs that can be earned and then by limiting the number of projects eligible for registration in a given country based on the percentage of fossil fuel covered by projects used.

There are now almost 800 CDM projects registered in nearly 50 countries. These projects, and the more than 1,300 others awaiting registration, will generate 2.2 billion CERs, each equivalent to one ton of carbon dioxide, by 2012.

That is also the year that the Kyoto Protocol, the current global framework for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, will expire. A major summit will be held in Bali, Indonesia, this December to determine future action on mitigation, adaptation, the global carbon market and financing responses to climate change for the period after the Protocol’s conclusion.

In July, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed that countries must agree to a successor pact to Kyoto three years before its expiration to be ready for ratification to allow them to make it law in time.

In a related development, top UN climate change and environment officials underscored the ties between the international treaty protecting the world’s climate, the Kyoto Protocol, and the global agreement to preserve the Earth’s ozone layer.

“The Montreal Protocol is successfully assisting in the repair and recovery of the ozone layer. The Kyoto Protocol is tackling perhaps the greatest challenge of our generation – climate change,” said UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Achim Steiner. “However, what is also emerging in 2007, and emerging with ever greater clarity, is that both treaties are mutually supportive across several key fronts.”

According to a new report by a Montreal Protocol panel to be released shortly, Kyoto’s CDM is the only reliable means available currently to prevent emissions of the potent HFC-23 greenhouse gas in the short term.

It was agreed by those participating in the Kyoto Protocol in 2005 that the CDM should not result in an HCFC-22, which is a gas regulated under the Montreal Protocol.

“The Parties to the Kyoto Protocol have been guided by the dual objective of safeguarding the climate and protecting the ozone layer when shaping climate action,” noted Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Representatives from almost 200 governments are in Montreal, Canada, on the 20th anniversary of the Montreal Protocol, and will discuss a recently-released UNEP report which details the benefits of accelerating the phase-out of HCFCs, chemicals used to replace chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which are more damaging to ozone.

Under the Montreal Protocol, HCFCs – which are widely used in refrigeration systems and air conditioners – are scheduled to be eliminated in developing countries in 2030 and in developing ones in 2040.

But the new study points to the advantages of pushing the dates forward by a decade. Global greenhouse emissions could be slashed by more than 3.5 per cent, and the report notes that speeding up the transition to HCFC alternatives could stimulate technological advances as well as return ozone levels to health pre-1980 levels several years earlier.