WASHINGTON, DC, October 13, 2004 (ENS):
The Kyoto climate protocol has not yet come into force,
but governments of developed and developing countries
alike are moving ahead to control their emissions of
the greenhouse gases linked to global warming. Russia
is expected to bring the protocol into force with its
ratification shortly, but the Netherlands, South Africa
and Mexico are taking steps to limit their emissions
The Netherlands European Carbon Facility was launched
on Friday. The new Facility is aimed at purchasing 10
million tons of greenhouse gas emission reductions from
the countries of Central and Eastern Europe for the
benefit of the Netherlands, an industrialized country
with Kyoto targets to meet.
The Facility was signed into existence by the Netherlands’
Ministry of Economic Affairs, and the International
Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the
International Finance Corporation (IFC), both members
of the World Bank Group, which will manage the Facility.
As the lowest lying country in Europe, the Netherlands
is interested in limiting global warming to prevent
catastrophic sea level rise that might result from rapid
warming of the polar ice caps.
To help the Netherlands meet its Kyoto Protocol obligations,
the new Facility will acquire emission reductions that
result from projects under the protocol's Joint Implementation
Under this mechanism a regulated country, such as the
Netherlands, invests in emission reduction or sequestration
projects in other countries that also have to meet emissions
targets, such as those in Central and Eastern Europe.
The investing country earns emission reduction units,
which can be accredited on its national emissions target.
The Netherlands is committed to reduce its greenhouse
gas emissions by eight percent compared to a 1990 baseline
by the end of 2012.
Renewable energy, energy efficiency, methane capture,
fuel switching, reduction of industrial emissions, or
afforestation/reforestation are considered eligible
projects for the Netherlands European Carbon Facility.
Peter Woicke, managing director of the World Bank Group
and executive vice president of the IFC, said, “This
initiative builds on the existing products of the World
Bank Group and underscores our commitment to sustainable
development by actively promoting the new and evolving
market for greenhouse gas emission reductions.”
The developing countries were not given any specific
reduction commitments in this Kyoto round that ends
in 2012, but many are taking steps to limit emissions
on a voluntary basis.
In South Africa, the government has enlisted the help
of all departments to deal with the effects of climate
change in the country.
Environmental Affairs and Tourism Director-General
Chippy Olver said, "For the first time we are adopting
an integrated climate change response strategy, which
maps out a detailed set of responsibilities for each
Olver was speaking at the release of a National Climate
Change Response Strategy document, which was approved
by cabinet on last Wednesday.
In was the department's first official response to
climate change and is the product of many years of interaction
between South African scientists and policy makers,
and the global environmental community, Olver said.
South Africa is getting hotter and drier in some places,
hotter and wetter in others, said Olver.
This would alter the types of crops South Africa could
grow and the places that could be cultivated. Malaria
would spread into previously malaria-free areas, biodiversity
would be threatened, and the economy would be affected
at a local and global level. He said, "Sorry to
be so grim, but it's a grim picture."
Because South Africa is considered a developing country
and as such does not have a formal emissions reduction
target under the protocol, the South African government
can utilize the investment options offered by the Clean
This mechanism enables developing countries to promote
sustainable development by trading carbon credits with
The South African government believes that it must
do something to avert a crisis. "Within two generations,
what we know as the maize triangle will no longer exist.
We will need to introduce new crops," he said.
In Mexico, climate change is being taken seriously.
Although as a developing country Mexico is not bound
by Kyoto Protocol emissions limits, the government is
establishing a voluntary national program to reduce
its greenhouse gas emissions.
In August, the Mexican government formalized a new
partnership that made it the first country to adopt
internationally accepted standards to measure and report
business greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
The Mexico GHG Pilot Program was begun August 26 with
the signing of an agreement between Mexico's Secretariat
for the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT),
the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Business
Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).
The two year partnership will develop a voluntary reporting
platform for Mexican businesses, following the internationally
accepted Greenhouse Gas Protocol developed by WRI and
WBCSD. Implementation will begin in January 2005 and
end by November 30, 2006.
SEMARNAT Secretary Alberto Cárdenas Jiménez
said, "This program will provide tools and training
to Mexican businesses, helping them to apply accounting
approaches to quantify GHG emissions, identify GHG reduction
opportunities, and attract new technologies and investments."
"While many industries throughout the world have
adopted the GHG Protocol, Mexico is the first country
to adopt it," said Jonathan Lash, WRI president.
"In the absence of international leadership in
tackling climate change," said Lash, "Mexico
has taken the lead in showing what can be done to mitigate