Industrialisation implies burning fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas) and the emission of great quantities of polluting gases to the atmosphere, particularly carbon dioxide, which are green-house effect generators (terrestrial radiation retention due to certain gases present in the atmosphere) and cause the planet's global overheating.

The green-house effect and the earth climate variation may result in catastrophic consequences, because pursuant to specialists, as the global overheating increases, the sea level will rise and vegetation will be displaced to the poles, which will experience the melting of large ice masses.

The atmosphere can only absorb certain gas quantities producing the green-house effect before climate disturbances begin to manifest, therefore, it is necessary to control such gas emissions.

Thus, all nations have to make efforts to alleviate or control this problem.

Industrialised countries, on the one part, are greatly responsible for emissions of green-house effect gases. However, under the Kyoto Protocol, these countries must reduce the level of emissions and demonstrate that they are reaching a level of acceptable emissions.

On the other hand, developing countries which, under the Kyoto Protocol have not undertaken any mandatory reduction because their level of emissions as a whole does not alter the atmospheric equilibrium, regardless of the fact that due to the development and the demographic growth rate, they are increasing their gas emissions.

The Protocol provides for establishing commercialisation of Certificates of Reduced Emissions.

In this connection, as to industrialised nations, they may effect a certain amount of domestic reductions within their boundaries by means of industrial updating, energetic efficiency, change of fuels, increase in forestry areas, but these reductions are very expensive.

This is an opportunity for developing countries to participate in the international carbon market with programs and projects of mitigation of green-house gases with its effects for the whole planet and, on the other hand, to generate a range of sources of "Green" employs that will reduce high unemployment indexes and the social problems it entails.

Alternative energies, non polluting transportation, cleaning and recovery of water sources, conservation, clean production, agriculture, legislation, forestry and even cosmetic industry are part of this range of sources of "green" employs, wherein large, medium and small industries are involved.

Colombia has a great potential in "green" markets, because it is considered as a mega-potency in terms of biodiversity, since with hardly 0.7% of the world continental surface not only holds 10% of the planet biodiversity and stores a large quantity of species not found in other parts of the world, but also for its optimal characteristics to develop forestry projects to capture carbon.

There are large land extensions with very low productivity, for which companies may purchase or rent land relatively near their centre of operations and plant forestry at very low cost and very high productivity and, therefore, certify seizure of carbon from the forests at very low cost per ton and offer coal or oil as clean fuel. Anyone interested in this new market could act likewise, whether with reference to their own products or simply as intermediaries thereof, that is to say, with a vast portfolio.

Likewise, for example, Colombia, as a coal producer, could offer "green" coal in an extremely competitive way, offering a package of certificates similar to the emissions that would cause by the burning the coal being sold. This would permit the buyer of this coal or of the oil to purchase it together with the reduction certificate, which would allow him to comply with his quota without having to substantially make a reduction at his country of origin.

Therefore Colombia, by approving the Kyoto Protocol, opens a market of high possibilities for its development and to the benefit of humanity, taking into account that investments in this field will be highly profitable, as well as for the financing in reasonable terms of the various projects that may be developed.

This report was prepared and is copyrighted in 2001 by PARRA, RODRÍGUEZ & CAVELIER, a law firm with offices in Bogotá, Colombia. The general information herein contained does not constitute legal advice. Transcriptions and quotes are permitted citing the source.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.