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APEC To Slash Emissions By 2050; China Big Winner

China a big winner in carbon credit game
Kunming, China (AFP) Nov 7, 2009 - In energy-hungry China's southwestern Yunnan province, power is being produced at wind farms, dams and garbage dumps as the Asian giant adopts more "green" technology thanks to carbon trading. The UN's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) allows rich countries to fulfil part of their greenhouse gas reduction commitments under the Kyoto Protocol by investing in projects that help reduce emissions in developing countries. The arrangement is one of the key features of the Kyoto pact on global warming, which expires in 2012. Nations will gather in Copenhagen next month to try to hammer out a successor treaty on climate change. China, now deemed by some scientists the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, is currently the biggest beneficiary of the CDM as it is home to more than a third of the 1,900 projects registered with the UN.

More than 60 percent of the world's carbon credits, or so-called "certified emission reductions" (CERs), are granted by China. "The mechanism of course needs to be improved, but it works," said Yan Tang, who oversees low-carbon CDM projects in China for the French Development Agency, which grants loans for such endeavours. In Kunming, the provincial capital of Yunnan, the city's roughly six million residents produce 3,500 tonnes of household waste every day, which is taken to two dumps. At one of them, a strange sight looms atop the mountain of garbage: a giant spider-like methane capture unit with dozens of pipes has been set up to trap potent greenhouse gases emanating from the muck and turn them into electricity.

The unit, which cost 15 million yuan (2.2 million dollars) to build, should prevent 64,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent from reaching the atmosphere each year. That reduction credit has been purchased by an Italian company. "Without the Clean Development Mechanism, this project would never have happened," said Ban Qinli, the director of Kunming Huanye Project Development Co, a private firm that runs the garbage dump methane capture plant. In Yunnan alone, the UN has already approved about 20 CDM projects, most of them in the realm of hydroelectric power, and 200 more are in the pipeline. Some have questioned whether China, the world's third-largest economy with 2.27 trillion dollars in foreign exchange reserves, is really the country most in need of CDM assistance to ensure its transition to a lower-carbon economy. But Yan said there was no question of the programme's fairness or effectiveness.

"The rules of the game are the same for everyone and the Chinese example can be useful for other countries," she said. One of the goals of the difficult climate change negotiations that will culminate next month in Copenhagen is to rework the CDM for the post-Kyoto era so that it is available to more than just the biggest developing countries. For example, as of now, less than two percent of the registered projects are in Africa. Thanks to concerted efforts by authorities, China has reaped maximum benefit from the programme, and some are concerned that any revamping could sideline the Asian giant in future. "Two years ago, relevant (provincial) economic authorities did not even know this tool existed," said Wang Xiaoli, director of Yunnan's assistance centre for those trying to run CDM projects. "Today, they're all wondering and worrying what the programme will look like post-Kyoto."
by Staff Writers
Singapore (AFP) Nov 6, 2009
Asia-Pacific powers including the United States, China and Russia are expected to call next week for sweeping cuts in greenhouse gas emissions on the final countdown to a crunch climate meeting.

US President Barack Obama and 20 other regional leaders will also say it is too early to wean their economies off stimulus spending, according to a draft summit communique obtained by AFP on Friday.

At their November 14-15 summit in Singapore, the leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum will call man-made climate change "one of the biggest challenges facing the world", the draft declaration said.

"We believe that global emissions will need to peak over the next few years, and be reduced to 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, recognising that the time frame for peaking will be longer in developing countries," it said.

The leaders including Obama, Chinese President Hu Jintao and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will stress their commitment to reaching a "good agreement in Copenhagen", it added.

The December gathering in the Danish capital will try to thrash out a new treaty to tackle global warming, but preparatory talks have become deadlocked and officials warn that the process could drag on into next year.

Obama, who will stop in Singapore as part of his first presidential tour of Asia, faces a recalcitrant Congress and his administration wants more action from developing nations such as China.

The developing powers want more money from the industralized world to combat what they say is a Western-produced problem.

The draft APEC text said global action to cut emissions should "be accompanied by measures to support the most vulnerable countries to assist them to adapt to the adverse impact of climate change".

On Thursday, US Senate Democrats pushed a climate change bill through a key committee, shrugging off a Republican boycott. But it could still be a long way before it can clear the full Congress.

The Senate bill calls for a 20-percent emissions cut by 2020, more ambitious than a House of Representatives version passed in June calling for a 17 percent reduction from 2005 levels.

In September, Hu told the United Nations that China would reduce the carbon intensity of its economy by a "notable margin" by 2020, but did not provide a figure.

Carbon intensity is the measure of greenhouse gas that is emitted for each dollar of gross domestic product.

On the economic crisis, the APEC leaders were expected to say: "We will maintain our economic stimulus policies until a durable economic recovery is secured."

But the draft stressed that "economic recovery is not yet on a solid footing".

The United States implemented a 787-billion-dollar Recovery Act in February which the White House says has saved or created nearly 650,000 jobs, and likely more than a million.

And analysts say that massive stimulus packages rolled out by Asian governments played an important role in helping the region weather the downturn better than the United States or Europe.

The Asian packages totalled more than one trillion US dollars, according to a tally by Standard and Poor's, led by 585 billion dollars in spending by China.

The APEC summit's host, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, said this week that winding down the stimulus packages to make way for growth led by the private sector should be managed carefully.

"How exactly it has to be phased out... and how you balance the risks of withdrawing too quickly and administering too much adrenalin, that is something which will have to be discussed by the finance ministers and the central banks and calibrated as we go along," he said.

The leaders are also expected to "firmly reject all forms of protectionism" and work for a successful conclusion of the Doha Round of global trade talks by 2010.

They will instruct their officials to draw up by the end of next year ways to achieve a free-trade zone stretching from Chile to China, it said, reaffirming a longstanding goal of the 20-year-old APEC grouping.

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