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 now.
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
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 mechanism.
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
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
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 department."
Olver was speaking at the release of a National Climate Change
Response Strategy document, which was approved by cabinet on last
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,
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 Development Mechanism.
This mechanism enables developing countries to promote sustainable
development by trading carbon credits with developed countries.
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
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
"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 global warming."