San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Experts Discuss Global Warming

IF global warming continues unchecked, by the year2100 sea levels could rise by one meter, partially sinkingwaterfront areas such as Costa Rica’s Pacific porttown of Puntarenas, according to Japanese climatic changeexpert Takayuki Kodama.However, Costa Rica and the more than 140 countriesthat signed the Kyoto Protocol, which went intoeffect last February (TT, Feb. 25), have started takingsteps to mitigate future climatic conditions that scientistssay can no longer be avoided.Franz Tattenbach, executive director of FUN DECOR, a Costa Rican non-governmentalorganization for the protection of forests,said the Clean Development Mechanism(CDM), a framework of cooperationbetween industrialized and developing countriesto reduce greenhouse-gas emissions asestablished by the Kyoto Protocol, nowallows for a procedure to “buy and sell air.”“Through the CDM method, ‘carboncredits’ are transferred from developingcountries to industrialized nations, whichpurchase these credits to receive emission reductioncredit certificates,” Tattenbachexplained at an event last week called“Climatic Change: the Kyoto Protocol andMore from a Costa Rican Perspective,” organizedby the Costa Rican-AmericanChamber of Commerce (AMCHAM).PAULO Manso, general director of theNational Meteorological Institute (IMN),said Costa Rica’s Office of JointImplementation (OCIC), created in 1996 asthe national authority to execute CDM projects,has already presented a project beforethe United Nations andis confident it will receivethe organization’sstamp of approval.“If this project isnot approved, I’lldeclare myself incompetent,”Manso saidduring the June 8 conference.The project, calledthe Río Azul LandfillGas Energy Project, isa methane-capturingplan to produce energy at the Río Azul landfillin Desamparados, south of San José.According to William Alpízar, chief ofthe OCIC’s technical division, the landfillhas been capturing methane since October2004, and should begin producing a projected3 megawatts of electrical power peryear within the next two months.Three other projects in the electricaland forestry sectors await registration atthe United Nations, which oversees theKyoto Protocol, Manso said.THE Río General HydroelectricProject, located in the Chirripó Atlanticbasin, would draw water from El GeneralRiver to produce a maximum of 39megawatts per year.Another project, La Ventolera, wouldexplore the country’s wind power potentialand install windmills in Los Santos,near the Inter-American Highway in theSouthern Zone.The OCIC also foresees implementationof a forestry project covering morethan 3,000 hectares in the Southern Zone.“A lot of CDM projects are gearedtoward producing energy. However, treescapture carbon dioxideand decompose itthrough a chemicalprocess. This is also anoption to reduce emissions,”Alpízar said.All four projects arebacked by the privateGrupo CorporativoSaret, according toAlpízar.Former EnvironmentMinister RenéCastro, who also spokeat the AMCHAMevent, said Costa Rica should aim to produce100% renewable energy, including geothermalenergy and wind power.“There is a tendency of growth in globaland regional energy consumption – it isworrisome,” said the ex-minister, who nowworks as an associate professor at theHarvard-affiliated Central AmericanInstitute of Business Administration(INCAE) in the province of Alajuela.ENVIRONMENT expert Kodama andtwo Japanese colleagues delivered presentationsat a conference entitled “Let’sUnderstand Global Warming and the CleanDevelopment Mechanism,” held earlierthis month at the National Water and SewerInstitute (AyA) auditorium in Pavas, westof San José.The conference was part of the activitiesorganized to celebrate the annual environmentalfestival “Fertile Mother, OurEarth,” held throughout the month of Juneto honor World Environment Day June 5.The Clean Development Mechanismwill help Japan meet its commitment toreduce greenhouse gases under the KyotoProtocol, said speaker Kimiko Tamagawa,researcher for the Mexico office of theJapanese International Cooperation Bank.“WITH a population 30 times largerthan Costa Rica and every Japanese residentconsuming five times more energy thanevery Costa Rican, Japan carries a muchheavier ecological burden than Costa Rica,”Tamagawa said during her presentation.In the Kyoto Protocol, Japan agreed toreduce its greenhouse gases by 6%, ofwhich 1.6% can be in the form of carbonbonds purchased from other countries,such as Costa Rica, which are not obligatedto reduce them, Tamagawa explained.In honor of the 70th anniversary offriendly relations between Costa Rica andJapan this year, the two countries may soonbegin an exchange under the CDM programthat will represent an extra source of incomefor Costa Rica, according to Tamagawa.The CDM is the only mechanism towhich developing nations have accessunder the Kyoto Protocol, because they arenot required to reduce their emissions asare industrialized nations, Alpízar said.Through the mechanism, developingcountries present emissions-reduction projectsto developed nations that purchase thereductions at a rate of approximately $4-5per ton of carbon dioxide, he explained.To make the process of buying and sellingcarbon bonds easier, the InternationalEmissions Trading Association and theWorld Bank organizes an annual CarbonFair in the city of Cologne, Germany.

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