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Fridges in a Mexico restaurant hold key to UN’s carbon emissions targets

New York: A United Nation pilot scheme will see groups of small-scale businesses in developing countries provided with energy-efficient technology. A small restaurant chain in Mexico city is about to play a pioneering role in the UN scheme reports London’s Guardian newspaper.

The UN is adapting its clean carbon development scheme to help developing countries cut carbon emissions at grass roots level. The pilot scheme is a variant on the UN system established by the Kyoto process that allows rich countries to meet emissions targets by funding clean energy projects in developing countries. Until recently, the CDM was open only to large individual projects, leading to criticism that it missed a trick on smaller schemes cutting emissions, such as the use of energy efficient light bulbs and more environmentally friendly stoves.

The new scheme, on a small scale initially, hopes to address some of that criticism by retrofitting a device into some of the restaurant chain’s fridges. Under the scheme developed by Ramp Carbon, a firm based in Melbourne, Australia, the restaurant chain is not charged up front for the technology, but put on a payment plan where it repays the cost out of the money saved in electricity bills. “This means that if we can’t demonstrate to them that the product has reduced their electricity bill, they don’t have to pay us anything,” Phil Cohn, Ramp Carbon’s founder told the newspaper.

A customer might be on a payment plan that lasts between one and two years depending on the specific set-up of their refrigeration systems. “By removing the up-front cost, and structuring repayments out of demonstrated energy savings, we are trying to remove two significant barriers preventing access to energy efficiency technology in developing countries.”

The UN believes such a approach holds enormous potential for households or small industries, especially in less developed countries, as it opens up carbon finance opportunities to a wide range of players. “The potential scale across Mexico and other developing countries is significant,” said Cohn. “We hope to be able to attract mainstream, commercial investors into an area [energy efficiency finance in SMEs] that has previously faced a number of barriers.”

The revenue gained by Ramp Carbon from trading carbon credits allows the company to reduce the price of the technology paid by the customer, further enabling broader take-up of the new technology.