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First Kyoto Protocol Emission Credits Generated by Honduras

BONN, Germany, October 20, 2005 (ENS) - Two hydroelectric power projects in Honduras today became the first facilities to generate certified emission reductions under the Kyoto Protocol. The hydroelectric projects, which do not emit greenhouse gases, are creating credits for Italy and Finland to use in meeting their emissions reduction commitments under the protocol.

In Bonn, the Executive Board of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) issued the first credits to La Esperanza Hydroelectric Project, registered in partnership with Italy, and the Rio Blanco Small Hydroelectric Project, registered in partnership with Finland.

Sushma Gera, chair of the Clean Development Mechanism Executive Board said, “The CDM is for real. It is delivering sustainable development to communities and at the same time real emission reductions.”

Certified emission reductions are generated by climate-friendly, sustainable projects in developing countries.

One certified emission reduction (CER) amounts to one metric ton of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent. Carbon dioxide is the most prevalent of the six greenhouse gases governed by the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

La Esperanza hydroelectric project on the Intibuca River is expected to generate 37,000 CERs annually, while the Rio Blanco project produces 17,800 CERs per year.

Both projects in Honduras supply renewable energy to the national grid. The country would otherwise have to rely on carbon-emitting fossil fuels to generate the equivalent electrical power.

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The Rio Blanco hydro project in Honduras will provide electricity for the municipality of San Francisco de Yojoa and the remainder will be distributed to the rest of the country. (Photo courtesy Ministry for Foreign Affairs Development Cooperation of Finland)
The project participants include governments, the World Bank Community Development Carbon Fund and private companies operating in Honduras, the Consorcio de Inversiones S.A., the Asociación de Pequeños Productores de Energía Renovablei, and Sociedad Hidroeléctrica Río Blanco S.A. de C.V.

The La Esperanza project credits have met with resistance from environmental groups. On November 26, 2004 Dutch and international NGOs wrote to the German and Dutch governments asking why this project had been appproved when it has not demonstrated compliance with the World Commission on Dams findings and is thus in breach of German and Dutch CDM criteria.

Patrick McCully, executive director of the International Rivers Network (IRN) based in California, said in an interview today that approval of carbon credits for the La Esperanza project violates the principle behind the Clean Development Mechanism.

The CDM is supposed to give credits to projects that would not have been built otherwise, so they actually will reduce the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, McCully said. "The problem is that La Esperanza was going to be built anyway. In terms of the climate, there's no benefit whatsoever, the whole thing is a scam."

The CDM system is "set up for people to cheat, because everyone involved in the process wants these credits," McCully said. "Only a few independent groups such as ourselves try to keep track of this incredibly bureaucratic process. The executive board, the ruling body of the CDM, has an interest in keeping the thing clean. It has done rather a good job so far, but they're under a huge amount of pressure from European governments and developers who want the carbon credits," he said.

Still, both projects were validated by the London company DNV Certification, one of the designated operational entities that play an important role in the Clean Development Mechanism as they check whether or not projects conform with the rules.

Designated operational entities also verify and certify the emission reductions achieved by a registered CDM project before the CDM Executive Board clears any certified emission reductions for issuance.

McCully said that DVM Certification ignored the objections of the nongovernmental organizations.

Since the Kyoto Protocol entered into force in February 2005, the number of registered CDM projects has doubled every quarter. It now stands at 26 and is growing. Some 300 projects are currently awaiting validation.

“This shows that project developers around the world now know of the opportunities offered by the CDM and are confident that their projects can comply with the rules," said Christine Zumkeller.

Zumkeller is acting coordinator of the Cooperative Mechanisms Program for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the international treaty under which the Kyoto Protocol was agreed by 35 industrialized countries.

The protocol requires that the signatory nations reduce their emission of greenhouse gases by an average of 5.2 percent during the 2008 to 2012 time period.

Acting head of the UN Climate Change Secretariat, Richard Kinley, is looking into the future past 2012. “Governments and project developers now need a signal that the CDM has a future beyond 2012," he said today.

"Once this signal is sent," he said, "project developers around the world will know that it makes sense for them to continue to engage in ever larger numbers.”

Waller-Hunter

UNFCCC Executive Secretary Joke Waller-Hunter addresses delegates at the 10th Conference of Parties to the UN Climate Convention December 2004 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Photo courtesy Earth Negotiations Bulletin)
Kinley took over the Secretariat Monday in place of former Executive Secretary Joke Waller-Hunter, who passed away on October 14 at the age of 58. A ceremony to honor her life and work will be held on October 25 in Bonn.

A commemorative event will also be organized in Montreal for participants attending the 11th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the first Conference of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol. The Montreal conference opens November 28 and runs through December 9.

A national of the Netherlands, Waller-Hunter joined the UNFCCC as its Executive Secretary in May 2002. From 1998 to 2002, she was the director of the Environment Directorate of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris.

From 1994 to 1998, Waller-Hunter was the UN’s first director for sustainable development, leading the division that provides the secretariat to the UN Commission on Sustainable Development, and co-ordinates the work of the UN in the field of sustainable development.



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