Celebrations greeted the registration this week of the 3,000th project under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), the world's premier system for developed countries to finance low carbon projects in developing countries.
The secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) announced that the project is a wind power one on the breezy plains of Inner Mongolia, where nomads have harnessed wind power on a small scale for generations.
The CDM is part of the Kyoto Protocol, an addition to the Convention that contains legally binding measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The 41-turbine, 49.5MW project is expected to save the emission of 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year by avoiding the construction of a fossil-fuel powered plant.
Developed by the Inner Mongolia Alashan Yinxing Wind Power Generation Co., Ltd, the wind farm is financed by a British company, Shell Trading International, which buys and sells carbon credits, and was approved by DECC last year.
Christiana Figueres, the UNFCCC Executive Secretary, said: “The Clean Development Mechanism is still evolving and will continue to do so. But from the original concept to now, it has been a success way beyond the initial expectations, not only in the number of projects but also in its ability to attract private sector investment into bettering livelihoods and environments of people in the developing world.
“The world will not solve climate change without an ever-increasing commitment to international cooperation," Ms. Figueres added. “That means the financial sector and business must be given ways and means to help put money and technology where they are most needed into the developing world, as well as into the developed world.”
71 countries now host CDM projects, and besides the 3,000 registered about another 2,600 projects are in the vetting process.
Developed countries signed up to the Kyoto Protocol can use the CERs to meet part of their obligations to reduce their national greenhouse gas emissions.
To date, 1,039 projects have earned a total of more than 600 million certified emission reduction credits, according to the UNFCCC.
Another registration this week was the Kafr el-Dawar project at the Spinning, Weaving and Dying Co. near Alexandria in Egypt by Masdar, the Abu Dhabi government-owned renewable energy company.
This "helps reduce CO2 emissions through switching from the higher carbon intensive fuel such as Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) to natural gas, a lower carbon intensive fossil fuel, contributing to Egypt's goals in sustainable development," said Badar AlLamki, Associate Director of Masdar Carbon.
This is, disappointingly, one of only 23 CDM projects in the entire Middle East.
Allamki commented: "Egypt so far has registered only nine projects when the size of its industry and energy consumption carries many opportunities for CDM investors to shift the country's industries to using natural gas or renewable energy."
At last December's UN Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico, governments agreed that tools such as the CDM have a key role to play in climate action. However, although it is unlikely that the Protocol will be renewed when it expires in 2012, the CDM will probably continue in some form.
Renewables set to expand
Another United Nations report presented this week to an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) meeting in Abu Dhabi, said that renewable energies (excluding firewood) could expand by three to 20 times by 2050.
Based on a review of 164 scenarios, the report said: "The cost of most renewable energy technologies has declined, and significant additional technical advancements are expected.
"Further cost reductions are expected, resulting in greater potential for climate change mitigation and reducing the need for policy measures to ensure rapid deployment.”
The 30-page summary for policymakers, part of a Special Report - "Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation" - will be officially published on 9 May.
In 2008 renewable energy production accounted for about 12.9% of global primary energy supply and was dominated by bioenergy with 10.2%, followed by hydro power, wind, geothermal, solar power and ocean energy.
Most of the 164 scenarios show renewable energies supplying over 100 exajoules (EJ = 10<sup>18</sup> J), or 3.5GToe, a year by 2050, reaching 200-400 EJ a year in many scenarios, compared to 64 EJ in 2008, when world supply was 492 EJ.
Renewables' share of total energy supply varies widely in the scenarios, reaching up to 77% of total energy supply by 2050. But their technical potential - especially solar - is substantially higher even than projected world energy demand.
This could lead to cumulative carbon dioxide savings of 220-560 billion tonnes from 2010 to 2050, compared with 1.53 trillion tonnes of cumulative emissions in a reference scenario for the same period.
Global renewables investments, in four illustrative scenarios, are forecast at $1.36-$5.1 trillion for the decade to 2020 and $1.49-$7.18 trillion from 2012-30.
However, real costs will be lower, due to factors including savings on other energies.