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Technologies for AIJ

The conference "Technologies for Activities Implemented Jointly" was held in Vancouver, Canada, in May 1997. The conference was organized by the IEA Greenhouse Gas R & D Programme, based in the United Kingdom. The main aim of the IEA, the International Energy Agency, is to reduce member country dependence on oil.

Joint Implementation is the name given to a system of international collaboration for reducing greenhouse gas emissions — it involves projects sponsored by one country and carried out in another, with mutual benefit. It is being piloted at present under the title Activities Implemented Jointly (AIJ).     

Many possible opportunities for AIJ were highlighted at the conference. "It is the sheer variety of the measures for greenhouse gas reductions that are out there today which is the key to this conference," said Mark Trexler of the United States, a leading consultant in the field.  But it was also a very pragmatic conference; Franz Tattenbach, head of Costa Rica's AIJ office, pointed out the need for "clear ownership of the benefits of AIJ and to stick with the principle of voluntary action."  If that is achieved then he expected that "projects will happen very fast."

Indeed, 41 projects have already received approval.  The conference provided an opportunity to hear about many others in the pipeline.  Discussions ranged from forest management in Latin America to tea-drying in Sri Lanka; from energy efficiency improvement in India to solar power in Crete; from use of carbon dioxide for enhanced oil recovery in China to improved cooking and lighting in Africa, and many more besides.

Jostein Leiro from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs found the conference "very stimulating because it brought together a unique mix of people from different sectors, private industry, academia and government institutions" — in all 220 delegates from 41 countries.  

Many delegates agreed with Leiro's view that "the conference demonstrated a very broad interest in AIJ, with a great variety of approaches and methodologies to make AIJ work under different circumstances and from different perspectives."  

Speakers identified technologies suitable for reducing emissions through improved energy technology and renewable energy systems, as well as better use of energy in heating and transport; ways of enhancing natural sinks and stores for carbon dioxide were also extensively discussed.  

Although there are many ideas for projects, there are also a number of hurdles which must be overcome in order to fulfil the potential of AIJ.  Not least is the need to maximize benefits from the projects and to share these benefits in an equitable way.  "AIJ must make a complementary contribution but it is not a panacea," said Luis Rosa from Brazil.  He explained that "some developing countries disagree with joint implementation because of the issue of transferring credits."  

Some potential host countries are concerned lest they be disadvantaged through entering agreements too soon.  Yet in many quarters there is a willingness to try, in order to learn; in the words of Lee Solsbery from the IEA, "in order to de-block the system at the same time as build awareness and build capacity."

A key player will be the private sector and there is increasing interest from industry in learning more, using the pilot phase to gain experience.  But not all projects are necessarily appropriate for private sector investment.  So the World Bank's development of a carbon offset mutual fund was widely recognized as a potentially ground-breaking idea for AIJ. Amin Aslam from Pakistan pointed out that this fund will "fill the role of the third-party risk-insurer; something which is required for the development of AIJ."

The future of joint implementation will depend upon the international commitments to be decided at the next Conference of the Parties to the Framework Convention on Climate Change to be held in Kyoto in December 1997.  In the meantime, many people are learning how to make it happen in practice.

The proceedings of the conference will be published by the organizers, the IEA Greenhouse Gas R&D Programme.  

A lengthier report on the conference appears in the latest edition of Greenhouse Issues, the newsletter produced by the organizers. This can also be found on the IEA Greenhouse Gas R & D Programme's Internet site at

Further information

Andrea Smith, IEA Greenhouse Gas R & D Programme, Stoke Orchard, Cheltenham, GL52 4RZ, UK. Fax: 44-1242-680758. Email:

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