Brazil Garbage Dump Could Be Climate Trailblazer
OSLO, Norway − A Brazilian garbage dump could be a trailblazer for thousands of projects in developing nations under a U.N. plan to battle global warming, a Norwegian company said Wednesday.
Coal mines in China, hydro-electric plants in Chile and wind farms in Morocco could follow under a program giving companies in rich countries economic incentives to invest in cutting emissions of heat-trapping gases in the Third World.
"We expect significant growth in this market," said Einar Telnes, technical director of Norway's DNV, which certified the Brazilian project. It was the first registered under the U.N.'s "Clean Development Mechanism" last month.
In the giant landfill at Nova Gerar in Rio de Janeiro state, methane from rotting garbage will be burned to generate electricity. That will stop the fumes from adding to global warming, dampen dangers of explosions and bring new income.
Dutch investors in the scheme will be able to claim the prevented methane emissions, equivalent to 670,000 tons of heat-trapping carbon dioxide a year, as credits back home.
In a fledgling European Union market, carbon-dioxide allowances are worth about $10.98 per ton.
Elsewhere around the globe, Telnes said about 200-300 clean energy projects were nearing certification in developing nations with perhaps another 1,200-1,300 on the drawing board.
"In the long term I wouldn't be surprised if we saw between 500 and 1,000 projects coming on every year," Telnes told Reuters. DNV, perhaps best known for checking ship designs, is a world leader in certifying environmental programs. Saves Carbon
The clean energy projects can save from a few thousand to millions of tons of carbon dioxide a year, averaging 200,000-300,000 tons, he said. By contrast, the United States, the world's top polluter, emitted 5.79 billion tons of carbon dioxide in 2002.
Carbon dioxide from fossil fuels is the main greenhouse gas thought to be building up in the atmosphere, pushing up temperatures and threatening storms, droughts and higher sea levels that could swamp coasts in Florida or drown low-lying Pacific islands.
The Netherlands is one of 128 nations to back the U.N.'s Kyoto protocol, which aims to cut rich nations' carbon dioxide emissions by at least five percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12.
Kyoto will start on Feb. 16, 2005. Russia ratified last month and gave it enough momentum to enter into force after the United States pulled out in 2001, arguing that it was too costly and wrongly excluded developing nations from cuts.
"We've seen quite a surge in projects after Russia ratified," Telnes said. In other projects, solar, wind or hydro energy could replace dirtier fossil fuel plants. In coal mines, flammable methane could be trapped to help avert blasts and protect the climate.
He said certification aimed to avert cheating in counting emissions of invisible gases. "We're verifying something that's not there, namely the greenhouse gases that would have been emitted in the absence of these projects," Telnes said.
Telnes said that one surprise in early projects was that some developing nations, like China, India and Brazil, were starting to register the carbon-dioxide reduction plans without first securing promises of investment by companies in rich states.