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China quake may reduce vital carbon offsets

Cross-posted on Reuters

The deadly China earthquake's toll continues to rise, with an estimated 50,000 dead and an entire region's infrastructure impacted. This includes 15 million tons of carbon that have been subject to offsets -- the barter system that allows developed nations to trade their pollution credits with developing nations, thereby providing an incentive for new infrastructure to be built in a carbon neutral manner -- within a 150 kilometer radius of Monday's quake centered in China's Sichuan province.
"We counted seven impacted companies among the world's top 20 project developers," said Laurent Segalen, Lehman head of emissions trading, who listed EcoSecurities, Deutsche Bank, Endesa and Mitsubishi Corp among developers with nearby projects.

They included projects to cut greenhouse gas emissions from chemical plants or by replacing fossil fuels using wind and hydropower.

Stockholm-based project developer Tricorona said on Thursday that it had over 10 offset projects in Sichuan that it said may have been affected and corresponded to 8 million tonnes emission cuts through 2012.
Carbon offsets are an essential part of greenhouse gas emission control of China's growing emissions caused by the ongoing development of coal-based plants and the increased automobile usage by their billions of citizens. The companies involved have not been able to assess the damage on their individual projects, but, given the scope of the destruction, it is a likely assumption that the carbon offset projects will be impacted, adding tons of greenhouse gases that would otherwise be taken out of the atmosphere, unless an alternative arrangement can be worked out in time.

The Chinese government has put out requests for assistance with the rescue and recovery effort, the scope of which, after the 7.9 earthquake that was said to have lasted approximately five minutes, has been estimated at least 50,000 dead with cities nearly leveled and infrastructure such as dams threatening to fail.

The loss of the offsets, while the least of worries in such a situation, could have a significant impact on the world at large and will need to be dealt with once the humanitarian efforts have been addressed.


LABELS: C02, CARBON, CHINA, CLIMATE CHANGE, EARTHQUAKE, ENVIRONMENT, GLOBAL WARMING,
REUTERS, KYOTO ACCORD