By Pablo Fernandez

photo: Pablo Fernandez

City dwellers create massive amounts of garbage every day, which are collected for disposal - if they're lucky. In many countries, rubbish is dumped in landfills or uncontrolled sites and covered with earth. This creates conditions under which fungi and bacteria produce methane gas as the waste breaks down, accelerating global warming.

I work with the NovaGerar project in Rio de Janeiro - where we capture the methane gas before it escapes from the ground, and burn it to power a generator. Begun in 2003, the project combats climate change - but that's not all. Burning the gas produces heat and electricity for the city. The generator is close to the urban centre, reducing losses suffered during long-distance transmissions of electricity, and increasing the city's amount of self-supplied energy. Last, but not least, we are creating electricity from resources that would otherwise be considered waste and discarded.

NovaGerar is one of the world's first ventures promoting sustainable development in developing countries under the Kyoto Protocol - the international agreement to mitigate climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions - that entered into force on 16 February 2005. It established the Clean Development Mechanism, a flexible economic mechanism that permits and encourages industrialized countries to invest in projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the developing world, and claim the net savings achieved as 'carbon credits'. It lets them meet their emissions reduction targets without carrying out costly overhauls to their infrastructures, by helping developing countries to introduce green technologies.

Our project, which generates credits for the Dutch government, is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 12 million tonnes of carbon dioxide over 21 years - which is like taking 150,000 cars (travelling 15,000 kilometres each) off the road for a year. And, starting in 2006, it will also generate up to 12 megawatts of electricity, enough to meet the daily power needs of 100,000 city dwellers.

Pablo Fernandez is a 2004 Bayer Young Environmental Envoy.


photo: Tiyawatchalapong/UNEP/Topham

photos: NovaGerar Database

  << Back: Tunza answers your questions  
Next: Supersize me >>
  Related Links:
World Environment Day PDF Version

  Planning for an urban planet Essential elements Rooms with a view Jams tomorrow? Tunza test drive Tunza answers your questions
Useful waste Supersize me Green Kaiser Getting it together? Waste not, want not Life on the tip
  Funky, but functional A sporting chance Where the wild things are Sites for sore eyes Gardens in the sky 7 city wonders
      About Tunza Contents Edition française Versión española