Keywords: joint implementation, United States, USA, climate change, greenhouse gases, GHG emissions, environmental pollution, renewable energy, land use
The US Initiative on Joint Implementation
More than 150 countries are now party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC), which seeks, as its ultimate objective, to stabilise atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHG) at a level that would prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system. As a step toward this goal, all Parties are to take measures to mitigate climate change and to promote and cooperate in the development and diffusion of technologies and practices that control or reduce emissions and enhance sinks of greenhouse gases. In the US, efforts between countries or entities within them to reduce net GHG emissions undertaken cooperatively, called joint implementation (JI), hold significant potential both for combatting the threat of global warming and for promoting sustainable development. To develop and operationalise the JI concept, the US launched its Initiative on Joint Implementation (USIJI) in October 1993, and designed the programme to attract private sector resources and to encourage the diffusion of innovative technologies to mitigate climate change. The USIJI provides a mechanism for investments by US entities in projects to reduce GHG emissions worldwide and has developed a set of criteria for evaluating proposed projects for their potential. The criteria are designed to identify and allow the USIJI to 'accept' projects that: support the development goals of the host country while providing greenhouse gas and other environmental benefits; produce measurable reductions in addition to reductions that would have been achieved in the absence of the project; can be monitored and tracked; will not result in net greenhouse gas emissions elsewhere or otherwise have significant secondary environmental impacts; have enduring impact. To date, the USIJI has received more than 80 project proposals, of which 25 have been accepted. These projects represent a diverse set of innovative technologies and practices in 11 countries, and include projects developing renewable energy sources such as solar, biomass, and hydroelectric power, and land-use change projects leading to better forest management, reforestation and afforestation. Aggregating preliminary estimates presented to the USIJI by project developers suggests that cumulative net emission reductions as a result of these projects are expected to be over 30 million metric tons of carbon (mt C) equivalent. While the USIJI does not certify project estimates prospectively, it does set forth provisions for monitoring and verifying emissions reductions as they occur. Furthermore, accepted projects, when fully implemented, are expected to lead to significant financial and technical investments in host countries. Additional proposals considered by the USIJI include submissions for projects in such other technical areas as methane reduction from livestock and waste treatment. Some of these proposals were withdrawn and others were not accepted. However, most of these proposals have been placed 'In Development' and will receive limited technical support in order to assist them in fully meeting USIJI criteria for acceptance. To test the USIJI criteria and to provide input into the international pilot phase, the US intends to promote the development of other 'acceptable' projects, and to seek additional information on the experience of individual developers during project implementation. As a supplemental effort, the USIJI seeks to assist countries in developing their national joint implementation programmes and to this end not only has developed a domestic outreach effort, but also sponsors regular international workshops, produces a USIJI newsletter, and maintains a Home Page on the World Wide Web.