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Greenhouse Gas Options for Developing Countries Under Study

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By Allan Chen,

December 8, 1997

BERKELEY, CA -- A team of scientists at Ernest Orlando Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is helping the world's developing and transitioning nations find ways of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. A new report edited by this group examines the trend toward increasing GHG emissions in 14 developing and transitioning nations, and how these nations may control the increases.

Led by Jayant Sathaye and Steve Wiel, scientists in the Berkeley Lab's Environmental Energy Technologies Division, the researchers are working with colleagues in many of the world's developing and transitioning nations to develop global climate change mitigation assessments under the auspices of the U.S. Country Studies Program.

Since 1994, they have organized greenhouse gas mitigation workshops in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Central Europe which have brought together scientists from 35 nations. The work done by these scientific teams provides objective scientific information about GHG emissions and mitigation options that negotiators at the Conference of the Parties meeting in Kyoto (December 1 through 10) will use as they work on a treaty to limit international GHG emissions.

"Baseline emissions of greenhouse gases in most of the transitioning nations begin to increase in the first decade of the next century, exceeding 1990 levels sometime during this period," says Sathaye. Transitioning nations include the former Soviet Republics and Eastern European nations.

GHG emissions from developing countries are expected to increase as their economies and populations grow. For example, in Mexico's baseline scenario, CO2 emissions roughly double in the period from 1995 to 2010, growing faster than GDP. In the Nigerian case, the overall increase in the 1990 to 2010 period ranges from 30 percent in the low-growth, to 80 percent in the high-growth scenario. The developing nations covered in the report are Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria, Sri Lanka and Venezuela.

Each nation's study focused on a different set of options for reducing their emissions. The choices included rehabilitating existing power plants, developing renewable energy sources, improving the energy efficiency, and switching to lower-carbon fuels. Various national options have the potential to reduce emissions anywhere from 10 to 30 percent.

"We have played a lead role in developing the methodology for the assessments. "We also organized the training workshops, provided technical assistance to the participating nations, organized workshops for reporting results, and are assisting the nations in preparing their final reports. Many of the results of the workshops have already been published in special issues of Energy Policy, Ambio, Applied Energy and Interciencia."

Sathaye has been attending the Conference of the Parties meeting in Kyoto that is currently in progress. He says: "I plan to discuss what we have learned with the delegates -- the problems of implementation, the costs of mitigation, the kinds of technology that should be transferred under the Framework Convention that can reduce carbon emissions, and the conditions for successful transfer."

The Berkeley Lab effort is funded and managed by the United States Country Studies Program, established by the U.S. following the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB). UNEP is funding a study of GHG mitigation in eight nations worldwide, and the UNDP/ADB funding is for mitigation studies in 12 Asian nations.

Other Berkeley Lab researchers working on these global climate change assessments are Stephen Meyers, Willy Makundi, Beth Goldberg and Mirka della Cava.

The USCSP report is titled "Global Climate Change Mitigation Assessment: Results for 14 Transitioning and Developing Countries."

Berkeley Lab is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory located in Berkeley, California. It conducts unclassified research and is managed by the University of California.

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