Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Wind Power in China

The New York Times has a story about a UN program to put renewable energy in poorer countries. The problem: by far, China is the biggest beneficiary, and China is not as poor as many other nations that could benefit from the fund.
That program, the Clean Development Mechanism, has become a kind of Robin Hood, raising billions of dollars from rich countries and transferring them to poor countries to curb the emission of global warming gases. The biggest beneficiary is no longer so poor: China, with $1.2 trillion in foreign exchange reserves, received three-fifths of the money last year.
Scientists increasingly worry about the emissions from developing countries, which may contribute to global environmental problems even sooner than previously expected. China is expected to pass the United States this year or next to become the world’s largest emitter of global warming gases. And as a result, some of the poorest countries are being left out.
That draws attention to the Clean Development Mechanism, which has grown at an extraordinary pace, to $4.8 billion in transfer payments to developing countries last year from less than $100 million in 2002.
The Clean Development Mechanism raises its money through a complex market in trading pollution credits: businesses and governments in affluent regions like Europe and Japan help pay to reduce pollution in poorer countries, offsetting their own emissions. This helps advanced industrial nations stay within their Kyoto Protocol limits for emitting climate-changing gases like carbon dioxide.
For each ton of global warming gases that a developing country can prove it has eliminated, the secretariat of the Clean Development Mechanism, in Bonn, Germany, awards it a credit. Developing countries sold credits last year to richer nations for an average price of $10.70 each.
Its growth has come almost entirely by focusing on efficient projects in China and other fast-growing countries that spread the administrative costs over many large efforts, while poorer lands have received almost nothing. And that is why the program is becoming a battleground, pitting an unlikely coalition of bankers, traders, industrialists and environmentalists, who defend it, against economic development advocates, who warn of distortions.
According to the
World Bank, China captured $3 billion of the $4.8 billion in subsidies last year for dozens of projects. Yet it accounted for less than two-fifths of the developing world’s fossil fuel consumption, the main source of warming gases.
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