A revolutionary mechanism for fighting climate change got underway on Thursday, coinciding with the announcement that the UN Kyoto Protocol that will supervise it will take effect from mid-February.
The innovation is the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), one of three market-driven ways under Kyoto for encouraging cuts in greenhouse-gas pollution.
Under it, companies in industrialised countries and industrialised nations themselves that carry out a clean-technology project to help the poor in developing countries will earn emissions "credits".
They can then offset these credits against their own emissions targets set down under Kyoto, or sell them on to to someone else.
The investment may be of interest, as achieving emissions cuts in rich countries is likely to be more expensive than in poorer countries because of tougher laws and higher labour costs.
The first CDM project, registered on Thursday, will reduce emissions of methane from a landfill in the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which oversees Kyoto, said in a press release.
Instead of being leaked into the atmosphere, methane from the rotting rubbish will be captured and then burned to generate electricity, providing "direct health and environmental benefits for the local community of Nova Igacu," it said.
"It is expected to reduce about 31,000 tonnes of methane per year which, in terms of global warming potential, is equivalent to a reduction of 670,000 tonnes of CO2 [carbon dioxide].
"This project holds a large potential for similar projects in other parts of Brazil and the whole world."
The partners in the project were named as S.A. Paulista, EcoSecurities and the World Bank Netherlands Clean Development Facility.
The project was approved by Kyoto's CDM Executive Board after it was vetted by a certifying company that checked the figures and verified the claims about how much pollution could be stopped and how poor people could benefit from it.
Kyoto will take effect on February 16 next year, the UNFCCC announced on Thursday after Russia submitted instruments of ratification in Nairobi.
The 30 industrialised countries that have ratified the accord -- Australia and the United States have refused to follow suit -- will be legally bound to meet specific targets of reducing or limiting emissions of six carbon gases by a timeframe of 2008-12.
These gases, the result of burning oil, gas and coal, are blamed for hanging in the atmosphere, trapping heat from the Sun and causing the Earth's surface temperature to rise.
Kyoto's two other market mechanisms are a market in carbon emissions and a clean-technology scheme among industrialised countries called Joint Implementation, which also offers emissions credits.All rights reserved. © 2005 Agence France-Presse. Sections of the information displayed on this page (dispatches, photographs, logos) are protected by intellectual property rights owned by Agence France-Presse. As a consequence, you may not copy, reproduce, modify, transmit, publish, display or in any way commercially exploit any of the content of this section without the prior written consent of Agence France-Presse.