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  • EU funds toxic projects in poor countries

    June 1, 2012
    by Angela Faloppa
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    Doña Juana, Colombia: un progetto che ha portato a maggiori emissioni (Copyright newasiarepublic)

    According to a report by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), the EU’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) is supporting waste projects in developing countries that threaten livelihoods and cause toxic emissions.

    The study claims the EU is funding waste-to-energy methods that violate its own guidelines and would be illegal in its member states.

    Accused projects include incinerator plants that burn reusable materials without consideration for waste prevention or recycling, such as the Changshu facility in eastern China.

    According to a report by the European Commission, the countries member of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) exported around 5 million tonnes of paper waste, 4 million tonnes of metal waste and half a million tonnes of recovered plastics in 2007.

    Many landfill gas projects backed by the CDM – which aims to promote investment in low-carbon technology in poorer countries by awarding carbon credits that can be bought by rich countries to offset their own emissions – deliberately increase emissions to generate more credits, claims the report.

    “Double standards are being maintained by European countries,” says GAIA’s climate policy campaigner Mariel Vilella. “On one hand, European countries have committed to reducing the amount of waste going to landfills, and they have committed to recycling, pollution controls and emissions reductions. On the other hand, they are buying carbon credits from projects in the developing world that are effectively increasing emissions and undermining local communities.”

    The study identifies the UK, France, Spain and the Netherlands as having the worst record on supporting waste incineration and landfill projects in developing countries that would be illegal in the EU. Through the carbon market, UK companies have backed 71 landfill and incinerator projects in 21 countries; not one conforms with EU strictures, claim the authors.

    The report concludes it is essential to integrate grassroots recyclers in poor countries into the planning, development and implementation of municipal solid waste programmes.

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