Nordics roll out climate flex-mex initiative

Countries plan to become key testing ground for Kyoto joint implementation projects

The Baltic region could become a "main testing ground" for some of the "flexible mechanisms" envisaged under the Kyoto climate change protocol, under an initiative close to being finalised by the inter-governmental Nordic Council.

Draft proposals will be presented to delegates from other countries in the Baltic Sea Council at a workshop in Malmö, Sweden, tomorrow. These should form a basis for a common position at a Nordic Council ministerial meeting in Helsinki at the end of October.

The proposals include joint implementation projects, under which countries fund and receive credit for emissions reductions projects in second countries. These would probably be administered through a clearing house within the Helsinki-based Nordic Investment Bank, and financed through a fund created specially for the purpose. A possible Nordic system of green certificates for renewable energy is also being developed.

Taking in both relatively rich and poor countries with widely differing levels and structures of greenhouse gas emissions, the Baltic grouping could prove fertile ground for joint implementation schemes. Sweden, for example, could notch up credits for helping to convert oil-fired power stations to biomass in countries such as Estonia. Swedish officials say this option could be very attractive given Sweden's small scope for further reducing domestic emissions, and particularly in the light of the country's commitment to phasing out nuclear power.

The next priority will be to define a baseline for such a scheme, as well as structures to validate it. The idea of creating a common "Baltic bubble" as a starting point for a burden-sharing agreement on emissions reduction similar to that struck by EU countries has also been mooted, but is thought too ambitious at present.

Officials are at pains to stress that the initiatives are being developed "in parallel with the Kyoto process," and that no final decisions will be taken until after the sixth conference of parties due in late 2000. 2003 has been suggested as a feasible date to put the first parts into practice. Other related proposals include the development of natural gas and electricity markets in the Baltic region, and a focus on energy efficiency and combined heat and power.

Apart from the five Nordic countries, the main partners in the initiative are three Baltic states - Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania - plus Germany, Poland, Russia and the EU.

Follow Up:
Nordic Council of Ministers, tel: +45 33 96 02 00.

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