EU's Soren Lutcken explains Clean Development Mechanism.

Belize can access investment capital for clean, sustainable development as industrialized countries seek to acquire carbon credits to offset their carbon emissions and help them meet their emission reduction targets in compliance with the Kyoto Protocol on climate change. Interested parties, environmentalists and government officials learned more about how to access this investment capital, when BELTRAIDE hosted a workshop on the Clean Development Mechanism, sponsored by the European Commission at the Institute for Technical Vocational and Employment Training (ITVET) in Belize City on Wednesday and Thursday, August 17-18.

Through the Clean Development Mechanism, any industrialized country can invest in projects in developing countries which help to mitigate the effects of greenhouse gas emissions in the industrialized country, and also help meet the goals of developing countries like Belize.

Successive consultations about development priorities at the local, national and regional levels have helped to develop a set of criteria on which such proposed projects will be evaluated and either approved or denied.

Under the environmental criteria, the project must improve or at least not impact negatively on water quality, air quality, solid waste management, biodiversity or noise.

Among the social criteria, the proposed projects must also help create jobs, develop Belizean workers’ skills, such as through technology transfer, and help develop, enhance and preserve Belize’s cultural and social institutions and national heritage.

The economic criteria evaluates direct foreign investment, creation of new jobs, development of renewable energy sources and use, and technology transfer.

Belize is particularly interested in renewable energy projects whether by hydro, solar or wind energy which would improve the country’s trade balance, while helping to reduce government’s foreign debt and budget constraints.

Reforestation projects are also welcome, as they would improve air quality and health, while reducing the threat of soil erosion and sedimentation in water resources, and also create jobs.

Biogas projects to produce methane for cooking or industry, from human, animal and agricultural waste are also welcome as they would help the country manage solid waste better, while also increasing our energy production, and preventing agrochemical and sewage contamination of the environment. The spin-offs in production of totally organic fertilizers, jobs and workers acquiring new skills are all positive.

Investment in bio-diesel or bio-ethanol is also invited as it would improve Belize’s energy security, while providing more employment in the agricultural sector, while more green plants translate into better air quality as the plants absorb carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere to grow.

BELTRAIDE invites any project which will help Belize improve its energy efficiency, as this will help make Belizean industry more competitive, while also increasing the security of the country’s energy supply.

Industrialized nations have become concerned about mitigating the effects of their own carbon emissions, which they are striving to reduce; because there is a growing body of scientific evidence which links carbon dioxide and other “greenhouse” gases to global warming and climate change.

Scientists have already observed substantial reductions in the area covered by glaciers in mountainous regions all over the world, and as this water flows into the sea, there has been an observable rise in sea levels.

Further global warming will contribute to more melting of the polar ice caps which will also contribute to a rise in sea level.

This will particularly affect low-lying countries such as Belize. Scientists estimate that global warming could cause a 1.65 meter rise in sea levels over the next 50 years, if the present rise is carbon emissions from industrialized countries is not halted and reduced. A 1.65m sea level rise would completely alter Belize’s coastline, reducing the amount of available land for farming, and since the rise in sea level would be global, the impact would also be global.

The impact on Belize’s Barrier Reef would be catastrophic, with a consequent impact on Belize’s tourism industry. Warmer sea temperatures will also affect Belize’s fisheries, as fish migrate to northern latitudes to seek the water temperature to which they are accustomed, which in turn will affect the world production of food from marine sources.

At a time when the world’s population is approaching seven billion, and the world would have eight billion people by the time that sea level rise takes effect, there is growing concern about how the world will feed its growing population. Warmer temperatures will also affect rainfall, growth cycles, and the total yield of existing agriculture.

Migration of animals and insects to cooler latitudes as the tropic areas of the globe warm up, will also introduce new vectors for new diseases to areas which have not known or had to deal with such pests.

The Reporter