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    Has the Kyoto protocol failed Africa?

    NewsEnvironment & Nature NewsFriday 02 December 2011
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    Africa

    On the outskirts of Durban, rubbish is being turned into energy and cash. A neat trick which the architects of the Kyoto Protocol can lay claim to.
     
    The Mariannhill Landfill is converting methane gas emitted by rotting rubbish into energy - and in doing so, providing an alternative to fossil fuels.
     
    Surrounded by man-made wetlands and forests, this rubbish dump is run with pride by John Parkin, deputy plant manager at eThekweni Municipality.
     
    "Most people expect some horribly smelly landfill. But on a Sunday we have people who come to watch the birds," he says, before pointing out some sacred ibis birds taking a drink.
     
    But Mr Parkin has a problem - one he wants the diplomats and politicians gathered in Durban for the UN's latest climate change conference to hear about.
     
    He would like Africa to get a better crack at getting climate finance and in turn wants the money that he feels his project has earned.
     
    "We started this project in July 2003, commissioned it in November 2006, and registered with the Clean Development Mechanism in December 2006," he explains with an ease that suggests he has often mentioned these specific dates.
     
    The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) is the financial tool built into the Kyoto Protocol to encourage the construction of projects in developing countries that lead to a measurable reduction in greenhouse gases.
     
    For each ton of carbon dioxide (or other greenhouse gas such as methane) prevented from going into the atmosphere, the project owner receives a credit that can be sold to polluting companies in the rich nations who use it to offset their own emissions.
     
    The price of the credits fluctuate like any market price, but they are currently around $8-9 (£5-6) each.

    It sounds relatively straightforward. But five years after registering with the UN, Mr Parkin is still waiting to receive a single carbon credit.
     
    "The process is very convoluted and extremely frustrating and pedantic," he says with a sigh. "Each little thing that happens seems to take an extraordinary length of time."
     
    Mr Parkin admits he may initially have underestimated the amount of work that was needed to go into satisfying the CDM criteria. He suggests even modest sized projects require two or three people whose sole focus is ensuring all the paperwork is filed.
     
    That is an expense that many African companies and governments simply can't afford. Of the 3,511 projects registered with the UN by October this year, just 72 were in Africa.

    Source: BBC News - read more

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