Tea demands carbon credit

Siliguri, Feb. 3: Planters of north Bengal have demanded that the tea industry be included in the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), a mandate of the Kyoto Protocol of 1997.

The demand comes at a time when carbon credit is a boom in India and a few organisations have earned money in the past few years by selling credits to companies in the European Union (EU) and the US.

“Though there had been revolutionary resolutions on global warming and greenhouse effect at the international level, tea, an eco-friendly industry, has never been conferred the Certified Emissions Reduction status,” said P.K. Rahut, a senior vice-chairman of the Dooars branch of the Indian Tea Planters’ Association (ITPA). He was speaking at the 59th annual general meeting of the organisation at Binnaguri on Friday.

“It is ridiculous that carbon credit has been denied to tea on the ground that it is the very nature of the industry to have low greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions,” said Rahut.

Only companies enlisted with the executive board of CDM formed at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change held at Kyoto in Japan in December 1997 can enjoy carbon credits. These companies are identified as Certified Emissions Reduction units and receive certificates for reduced GHG emissions.

In India, the National Clean Development Authority, functioning under the Union environment and forests ministry, considers applications for inclusion in the CDM before forwarding them to the international body.

“A number of companies are enlisted with the CDM in our country,” an expert said. The Oil and Natural gas Commission or ONGC is one such company.

“These companies get carbon credits for each tonne of carbon dioxide that they can cut down upon. The credits can be sold (a company may not sell it also) through a market like any other commodity to units in the EU and US at the rate of 10-15 Euros per credit. The companies there purchase the credits to balance the level of emissions from their units, which is usually high.”

Stakeholders of the tea industry said their factories are located in brew plantations that absorb carbon dioxide, a primary GHG, and so they are justified in raising the demand.

“The industry in India is reeling from funds crisis. If tea manufacturing units are enlisted with the CDM, we too, can earn money by selling carbon credits,” said N.K. Basu, the principal adviser to the ITPA. “We will soon write to the Centre with this demand.”