CORRECTED - Asia keen on Bush-backed emissions credits trade.
In Feb 15 SINGAPORE item headlined \"Asia keen on Bush-backed emissions credits trade,\" please read in the fifth paragraph...$8 million over seven years...instead of...$24 million over 13 years (corrects figure and time frame). A corrected version follows.
SINGAPORE - Power companies in Asia are hoping a new anti-global warming plan due from U.S. President George Bush will include support for emissions credit trading that could help fund cleaner energy across the region.
Small regional power companies now are counting on Bush to support emissions credit trade so they can secure financing for clean power plants in Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines.
Without the United States as a customer, earning money from what amounts to selling clean air may remain a dream.
\"Right now, the notion of emissions credit trading is barely alive because of the non-participation of the U.S.,\" said Thawat Watanatada, president of AT Biopower in Bangkok.
Watanatada is eyeing potential earnings of $8 million over seven years from emissions credits produced by five biomass power plants AT Biopower is planning to build in Thailand this year.
So far, AT Biopower\'s main funding is from Rolls Royce Power Ventures, a London-based leader in small power plant development, and Al Tayyar Energy, a Moroccan renewable energy firm.
Without the emission credits to help secure additional funds for cleaner energy, Thailand will continue to produce the kind of dirty power found in the West, Watanatada said.
\"With U.S. participation, emissions credit trade imagined in Kyoto will have real teeth. Without it, we are more likely to repeat their mistakes.\" he said.
BUSH REJECTED KYOTO
Under the emissions credit trading proposed at the 1997 Kyoto climate talks, big energy companies will receive credits for the amount of carbon dioxide - the main gas capped at Kyoto - which they would otherwise emit via dirtier energy sources in return for investing in renewable power projects in developing countries.
The Kyoto treaty binds industrial countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions by about five percent of 1990 levels by 2012. Bush said emissions cuts would be too costly, and too many developing nations like China and India were exempt.
His rejection stirred global anger at the U.S., the world\'s No. 1 polluter, for not doing more to slow global warming.
Sceptics fear early entrants into emissions credit trading might sacrifice long-term power efficiency for short-term profit.
\"Carbon trades will accelerate the transfer of efficient technologies,\" said Rob Watson of the Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC), an environmental watchdog group in New York.
\"But the plants which earn a lot of carbon emissions credits in year one might forego the costly boiler replacement crucial to the longer-term efficiency and savings,\" said Watson, who advises Chinese companies developing clean power.
Advocates of emissions credits trading look to European state mandates that are driving moves away from dirtier fossil fuels. Biofuel produced in Europe is expected to reach 2.4 billion barrels by 2007, up from 500 million in 2000, according to data from New York-based market consultancy Frost & Sullivan.
By capturing a projected 4.8 million tonnes of emissions from burning rice husks over the next 13 years, AT Biopower could could earn credits worth between $3 and $5 per tonne, according to Marc Stuart of Eco Securities, whose California business has already brokered carbon credit trades in Brazil.
But just how emissions are measured in emerging markets is key, said NRDC\'s Watson, pointing to discrepancies in Asian infrastructures, levels of amenity and technical capability.
As countries such as India and China industrialise and build appetites for more energy and modern conveniences, rules setting who can and cannot pollute must be well protected, said Watson.
\"Is the emissions baseline Germany, where they\'ve squeezed all the efficiency out of every plant? Or is it India, where there is a lot of room for improvement?\" he asked.
Story by Jonathan Landreth
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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