Finland for more clean air interaction with India

By Vishnu Makhijani


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Helsinki : Finland would like to ramp up its interaction with India in clean air technologies, even as it feels New Delhi can pressure the US into ratifying the Kyoto Protocol on reducing global warming.

According to Jukka Uosukainen, deputy director general for UN and other multilateral cooperation in the Finnish environment ministry, Finland would like to see greater engagement with India in areas like CDMs (clean development mechanisms) and developing alternate sources of sustainable energy.

Finland has earmarked some 10 million euros on CDM pilot projects in several developing countries to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions but Uosukainen was unhappy to note that over half the projects have gone to China and very few to India.

"We had hoped that the projects would be more evenly spread but over half of them have gone to China. Where the projects go is something not in our control but still we hope for greater engagement with India," Uosukainen told IANS.

The pilot programme involves projects using renewable energy sources ranging from biomass and biogas to hydropower and wind power. The programme aims to purchase the consequent emission reductions for Finland and build administrative capacity to allow for the wider use of Kyoto mechanisms.

"In spite of the many new challenges, the pilot programme has shown that CDM and projects can be viable and sustainable," Uosukainen contended.

In this context, he noted that an India-Finland Joint Working Group on Energy and Environment was engaged in CDM projects in the areas of hydropower, bio fuels, wind farms and meteorological cooperation but that there were "problems" in their implementation.

"These projects are being conducted under an MoU (memorandum of understanding) with the (Indian) ministry of non-conventional energy sources. However, there are some problems as these are being implemented by NGOs. This perhaps needs a change," Uosukainen maintained.

Noting that Finland was 80 percent energy efficient against India's figure of 35 percent, he said it made "economic sense" to deepen their engagement.

"There is huge potential for greater cooperation in areas like technology transfer, training and capacity building," the official contended.

As for the Kyoto Protocol, Jouko Skinnari, a former minister and one of Finland's most influential politicians, thought India could play a major role in persuading the US to ratify the measure.

"The US has to be made to realise that climate change affects us all. Unless the US ratifies the Kyoto Protocol, it will be an ineffective mechanism. India, as also China, can put pressure on the US to ratify the pact," he argued.

Skinnari, who has served unbroken terms for the last 30 years, is currently chairman of the Finnish parliament's commerce committee.

Under the Kyoto Protocol negotiated in December 1997, industrialized nations have committed to making substantial reductions in their emissions of greenhouse gases by 2012. More than 160 countries are committed to the agreement.

The US has signed the Kyoto Protocol but the Senate has not ratified the treaty. Ratification would require the US to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by seven percent below its 1990 levels by 2012.

Following in the footsteps of the previous Clinton Administration, the Bush Administration has rejected the Kyoto Protocol as being too costly for the US economy.

Instead, it has proposed its own climate change initiative that calls for voluntary reductions in emissions, tax credits for emissions reductions, and increased research and development for new energy technologies.

Skinnari maintained that India could leverage its growing economic clout to persuade the US to think otherwise.

Uosukainen echoed the parliamentarian's views.

"Yes, India can definitely play a role in persuading the US to come on board (the Kyoto Protocol)," he maintained.