By Ramón Legnani
In Stockholm, says Mauricio Strong-, we lost our innocence, before we damaged the environment without realizing it. Still, most countries will not meet the targets. ”
A press release from the Ministry of Housing, OT and Environment dated in Montevideo on September 5, 2008, reported that on Tuesday, September 9, the Seminar on Clean Development Mechanisms would be held, organized by the Climate Change Unit of the management National Environment.
What exactly is this seminar about?
We will try to explain it to those who do not handle these issues.
The evolution of Climate Change is studied in detail, but it is becoming increasingly clear that its adverse consequences are worse than expected. It is interesting to review press statements from eight years ago made by a personality who worked intensely on environmental issues. Mr. Mauricio Strong of Canadian origin, Secretary General of the UN on Human Environment at the International Conference held in Stockholm in 1972 and first Executive Director of the United Nations Program. for the environment, he was Secretary General of the Earth Summit (ECO-RÍO 92) .-
In August 2000 Strong was in Montevideo and in press statements (1) - he pointed out: - “respecting the environment is a greater imperative for poor countries than for rich ones, because it is their main resource. Basic products and water depend on the environment ”. And later he expressed: “I hope I am wrong but I believe that the 21st century will be the last of our civilization. We are self-destructive. Not all life forms will disappear, as insects and many animals will survive. A civilization like the current one is unsustainable. If we notice that the temperature increases and we know that something can be done about it, we must do it now and not wait until it is too late "
At the end he pointed out: “now we are worse off than before the world conferences in Stockholm and Rio de Janeiro.- In Stockholm, says Mauricio Strong-, we lost our innocence, before we damaged the environment without noticing it. Still, most countries will not meet the targets. ”
“From Stockholm and Rio - continues Strong, we have developed the technology to mitigate the damage. Now we have the means, but we lack the motivation. - We lack a system of moral and ethical values - governments should be the most important instrument to express those values…. The rulers are not acting as leaders ”.
So far part of the statements of Mauricio Strong.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, there were relatively frequent press reports pointing to the trafficking of toxic waste and dangerous substances from rich countries to poor countries, who were paid to receive such waste, that is, The rich paid to pollute the poor.
In the former capital of Japan, Kyoto, on December 11, 1997, more than 100 countries committed to reducing polluting emissions. There the goals that each country must achieve in the fight against climate change, caused by the production of "Greenhouse Gases (GHG)", were established.
On February 16, 2005, the Kyoto Protocol came into force, which established that each country must reduce GHG emissions to 5.2% below what it emitted in 1990 and that it must achieve this before 2012.
There are six greenhouse gases (GHG): C02 (carbon dioxide gas or carbon dioxide), CH4 (methane), Nitrogen Protoxide (N2O) and three fluorinated gases (HFC, PFC, SF6).
Three of the world's most polluting nations, China, India and the United States, have refused to sign the Protocol.
In the Kyoto Protocol, among the instruments to achieve the goal, the so-called “Clean Development Mechanism” (CDM) was established, which consists of investment in cleaner technologies in the “developing world”. It enables an industrialized country to "meet its goals" by supporting developing countries with projects that have low greenhouse gas emissions or that capture carbon from the air (with afforestation). The condition is that these projects favor local sustainable development in poor countries.
The reason is simple, it is cheaper to carry out projects that are supposed to save GHG in underdeveloped countries, than to try to achieve such reductions in your own companies.
The poor country benefited from the project, issues greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction certificates that can be sold to other actors in order to be used as permits so that industrialized countries can emit more GHGs than they are authorized.
In other words: a rich country pollutes above what is authorized, its companies can carry out activities that are supposed to reduce GHG in a poor country, and that allows them to continue polluting in their place of origin. The poor country (Urguay, Chile, for example) “pays” for the amount of greenhouse gases that are not emitted into the air, issuing emission reduction certificates, which are traded on the stock exchange as “carbon credits”. - Even buying shares of these forestry projects in underdeveloped countries do not have to comply with the obligation to reduce their polluting emissions.
Currently in Uruguay there are four CDM projects (2):
The oldest is the one carried out by the Spaniards in the Portland cement production plant in Minas, burning rice husks as a substitute source of energy for oil.
The second project is carried out by the Montevideo Municipality with the World Bank (the buyer of the bonds is the Spanish government) and consists of avoiding methane emissions from the Felipe Cardozo plant (Montevideo garbage). They pipe the gas and burn it; unfortunately they have not found a way to use it as a source of energy.
The third project works at the Botnia plant. It generates electricity from the burning of highly polluting black liquor (biomass), which is generated by the plant remains of the industrial process. In this way, the plant is self-sufficient in electricity and sells the rest to UTE. In this case, the gas reduction certificates will be used by Finland.
It means that all the projects that companies develop in Uruguay, which are supposed to reduce (or prevent the production of) greenhouse gases (GHG), our country will issue certificates that will enable them to continue polluting in their countries of origin.
We can draw two conclusions:
1- They are polluting companies in their countries of origin (and they will continue polluting, now with certificates that will make them defenders of the environment); Y
2 - the beginning: they pay to pollute !!!
(1) Tierra America, supplement of La Republica, 09/03/2000, Personal Archive)
(2) El País Digital, Montrevideo, August 13, 2008, “Clean Development Mechanism, Hernán Sorhuet Gelós.