Reducing global carbon emissions

PRIVATE COMPANIES are being encouraged to help Portugal play its part in reducing global carbon emissions.

The Ministry for the Environment wants companies to get involved with the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), the arrangement under the Kyoto Protocol which allows industrialised countries with a greenhouse gas reduction commitment to invest in emission-reducing projects in developing countries.

This is seen as an alternative to what is generally considered more costly emission reductions in their own countries.

According to Environment Minister, Nunes Corriea, Portugal has already signed protocols with Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, El Salvador, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau and Tunisia and is currently negotiating with Angola, Cape Verde, São Tomé and Principé, Russia, Czech Republic and Romania.

“When these countries learnt that we have a fund in place to aid private investors it has attracted them to negotiate with us, such was the case with Mexico,” said Correia.

At the end of a dinner debate held in Porto last week, called the European Strategy for Energy: opportunities and challenges for Portugal, Correia explained that he had no doubt about his confidence in the project, saying “a Portuguese company that invests in Angola now has an incentive to adopt positive measures for the environment, namely through the use of renewable energy”.

The Fundo Portuguese de Carbono, Portuguese Carbon Fund (FPB), is a vital asset in attracting private investment to developing countries. According to Correia, if a company wants to implement a wind farm totalling 100 millions euros, through the FPB the state can give 20 or 30 millions euros to help the investment. “The rights of emission are then divided between the company and the state”, he said.

The Kyoto Protocol’s clean development mechanism is a glimpse of the future, says Hans Jürgen Stehr, the newly elected chair of the Executive Board that oversees the mechanism.

“The mechanism’s success in stimulating investment in development projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions is a model for other financial and market-based initiatives,” he said.

In just two years, the CDM has resulted in more than 500 registered projects in more than 40 countries in the developing world and is expected to result in emission reductions equivalent to 1.8 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide by the end of 2012.

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