Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Carbon Clear at the Africa Carbon Forum

This week we're at the Africa Carbon Forum in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where I'll be speaking at a training session on Programmes of Activities.  And catching up with old friends and associates.

The Africa Carbon Forum, or ACF, brings together government representatives, private investors and carbon project developers, consultants, academics and NGOs.  The goals: share information, identify carbon project opportunities and figure out how to make the carbon markets work for Africa.

Until recently, it could be argued that the carbon markets were not working for Africa.  According to the UN Environment Program, fewer than 3% of all Clean Development Mechanism carbon credit projects were in Africa, and 4% of all carbon credits.  For a region with 14% of the world's population and a disproportionate exposure to climate change impacts, Africa has clearly been under-represented.

Much of the conversation at the last few ACF meetings has been about how Programmes of Activities, or PoAs, can help change this situation.  PoAs allow you to register carbon credit projects that are made up of a number of decentralised activities that can be rolled out over a period of years.  The traditional project approach was suited only for relatively large, standalone activities, like hydroelectric power stations and landfill gas capture schemes.  Those traditional approaches are challenging for projects that provide benefits to poor, widely dispersed rural communities. PoAs are distributing improved cook stoves, water purification systems, or solar-powered lanterns across an entire country.

Since the adoption of Programmes of Activities, the number of new carbon credit projects in Africa has skyrocketed.  That's good news for people across the continent who lack ready access to clean energy services.

But, like traditional projects, these initiatives must be well-managed and rigorously monitored to generate carbon credits with robust environmental integrity.  Thus my session tomorrow morning.  I'll be participating in a training for organisations that want to manage these far-flung PoAs, helping to ensure that they understand the rules laid out by the Clean Development Mechanism.

I'll say more in subsequent posts about the conversations and presentations at this week's conference.