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Developing countries encouraged to curb greenhouse gases

It might be cheaper for a rural town to construct a wind or solar energy facility instead of wiring in electricity from a power plant located a hundred miles away.   

June 18, 1999
Web posted at: 5:02 p.m. EDT (2102 GMT)


Developing countries can lower their emissions of greenhouse gases while maintaining or improving their economic growth, according to a report released Wednesday by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.

"This study shows that developing countries do not have to choose between protecting the environment and ensuring their economic future — they can do both," said Eileen Claussen, executive director of the center.

The debate over the participation of developing countries in the Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty to reduce global emissions of greenhouse gases, has stalled ratification of the treaty.

Developing countries refuse to participate in the treaty because they say that measures to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases in their countries would bring economic harm. However, the United States said it will not ratify the treaty until there is "meaningful participation" by developing nations.

In an effort to find a solution to this roadblock, the Pew Center on Global Climate Change released the report, Developing Countries and Global Climate Change, that details four alternative paths to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Current projections show a near tripling of carbon dioxide emissions from electric power in developing countries during the next 20 years, which represents 10 percent of worldwide projected emissions.

The first thing developing countries should do is include the cost of electricity delivery — not just generation — when they make their planning and investment decisions.

For example, Lisa McNeilly, a collaborator on the report, said it might be cheaper for a rural town that currently does not have electricity to construct a wind or solar energy facility in the village instead of wiring in electricity from a power plant located a hundred miles away.

According to the report, such measures could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by two and a half percent.

Second, developing countries should consider increasing privatization of the electricity sector. The general assumption is that with increased competition, power plants will be built for less money, be more efficient and produce more power than they would under strictly government contracts, said McNeilly.

Third, the report says that increasing the use of natural gas and renewables could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by almost 25 percent with the same economic benefits.

And lastly, increasing the efficiency of electricity supply and demand could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to 10 percent.

"The study findings offer a blueprint for progress," said Claussen. "But progress in the developing world will not build itself. The industrialized world has an important role to play in supporting reforms that will allow these benefits to accrue."

Over the next 20 years developing countries are expected to spend $1.7 trillion on new energy projects. As dominant lending countries, the developed world needs to promote power technologies that may have a higher initial investment but greater economic and environmental benefits over the long term.

"The cost of renewable energy is up front slightly higher than conventional, but when you implement full infrastructure cost and the cost of environmental pollution you end up being the same or higher," said McNeilly.

Copyright 1999, Environmental News Network, All Rights Reserved

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Developing Countries and Global Climate Change
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