Activities Implemented Jointly

Activities Implemented Jointly (AIJ) or Joint Implementation (JI): Carbon Colonies or Business Opportunities? by Tendayi A .Kureya, Southern Centre for Energy and Environment

What is JI?

Article 4.2 (a) of the 1992 UNFCC states that "The developed country parties and others parties included in Annex 1 shall adopt national policies or take corresponding measures on the mitigation of climate change, by limiting their antropogenic emissions of GHGs and protecting and enhancing its sinks and reservoirs...... These parties may implement these policies jointly with other parties, and may assist other parties in contributing to the achievement of the objectives of the convention."

During the negotiations of this Convention, the delegations of the Norwegian and Dutch Governments suggested that countries may seek to achieve the objectives of the Convention in a cost effective manner by jointly implementing activities to curb and abate climate change. This idea became adopted as "Joint Implementation". Originally, the idea was aimed at joint projects between industrialised countries, but the assumed cheap labour and agrobased economies of the third world attracted the possibility of (North South Joint Implementation NSJI) projects which the North argues was a cheaper way of abating climate change. The resulting debate has been know as the JI debate, which to this date has been on going. In a Joint Implementation situation, the South, or third world raised the following issues:

  1. Should a country‚s current or past role in causing climate change determine its share of the costs and sacrifices now needed to minimize it? How does JI come into the Picture?
  2. Should each nation‚s contribution to climate change be measured only by its emissions of carbon dioxide, or should other greenhouse gases be considered as well? Which gases will JI consider?
  3. Should each country‚s permitted emissions quota be calculated according to its current emissions level, its population size, or some other measure?
  4. Who should pay for saving the world‚s dwindling tropical forests (deforestation has the effect of increasing atmospheric concentrations of CO2)? Should JI projects address this issue, even if the donor country does not specialise in forest management?
  5. Is climate change data, mostly generated in the industrialized countries, free of political bias?
  6. What is the Duration of validity of NS-JI cooperation? How long will this cooperation paradigm last?
  7. What is the impact of NS-JI on present arrangements to support the South‚s participation in emissions abatement?
  8. What are the likely risks for the south? Zimbabwe?
  9. Who will pay for the transaction costs in NSJI?
  10. How will credits be shared between the North and South in JI projects?
  11. Will JI projects finance replacement of outdated machinery in developing countries like Zimbabwe?
  12. Will they represent new direct foreign investment, or will they be a market creation gimmick for unproven Northern products?
  13. How could JI projects be fine tuned to deal with end-user efficiencies in the energy sector, rather than just big projects such as power stations?
  14. How will it be ensured that the technology transferred matches the one being used in the North, or at least the best available?
  15. What will be the role of Government in the developing private sector projects?
  16. How will it be ensured that Southern JI products will continue to access markets in the North?
  17. Will the enthusiasm with JI create a debt burden as the North relaxes its conditions for technology transfer?
  18. What is the measure for the opportunity cost for the South, in particular, Zimbabwe, for engaging in JI?
  19. Who will evaluate JI Projects? Who will fund this?

Some likely Advantages of JI to Zimbabwe:
  • JI may bring opportunities to Zimbabwean industries in form of technology transfer, capacity building, and opening of green markets in the North. It should be noted though that these would be aimed at producing less GHGs than would have been produced in the absence of these projects.
  • Zimbabwe could benefit from investments in the energy and industry sectors through more efficient management.
  • JI projects in say Zimbabwe may attract investment in or by neiboughring countries, and promote economic, social and political stability in the region.
  • Since Zimbabwe will one day become industrialized, JI projects will pave the way for how the country will deal with excess emissions then.

Some likely Disadvantages

  1. JI projects are unfair: Industrialised countries caused most of the emissions, so they should be responsible for their actions.
  2. JI projects will mean that developing countries will engage themselves in limiting GHGs while idustrialised countries continue to enjoy their large percapita energy consumption. Furthermore, Idustrialised countries may not fully fulfill their obligations under the FCCC, and instead shift these to DCs.
  3. Under JI, Industrialised countries will use up all the cheap options for limiting GHGs, and developing countries like Zimbabwe will be left with expensive options when they take on obligations in the future.
  4. Some of the proposed projects are not in line with Developing countries national priorities, and hence will force the DCs to do the dirty work.
  5. The cost of reducing GHGs in DCs such as Zimbabwe is not as low as assumed, and should these projects be commissioned under these assumptions, the host countries may have to subsdise these projects. Other costs not fully understood include opportunity costs and transaction costs.
  6. Some DCs are concerned that Industrialsed Countries may use ODA and GEF resources to bring down the costs of JI projects. ODA is for the development priorities of DCs, While GEF funds are for DCs to meet their obligations under the FCCC. There is debate on whether and how ODA or GEF funds should be used in JI related projects such as capacity building.
  7. Some DCs are afraid that ICs may get credit for emissions that would have happened anyway, through business-as-usual or ODA assistance.
Some Criteria for NSJI Applicable to Zimbabwe:

  • In the wake of the points raised above, it is necessary that Africa and the rest of the third world maintain that investors under JI invest in areas that they are currently working in, and not in areas they do not have specialisation. For example, a motor vehicle industry may not take to invest in forestation JI projects. Projects should come with full packages, including production and marketing strategies. The South is discouraged from projects that strongly favour creation of markets for northern products. Projects with strong influence on the public sector or have political implications should be left for bilateral or multilateral agreements. JI projects should not be included via Export Processing zones.
  • JI projects should work in line with Zimbabwe's national development objectives.
  • JI projects shall not over exploit natural resources, or contribute to environmental degradation.
  • JI should contribute national capacity building and expertise, and strive towards the development of indigenous and appropriate technologies.
  • Contribute towards value addition of certain export products such as secondary processing of mineral products.
  • JI projects should be owned by Zimbabwe.


The debate on JI will continue for a long time, and Zimbabwe's participation should be from a position of fully understanding the implications; politically, economically or otherwise. I strongly suggest that Africa maintain dialogue in such global fora, and keep her position to safeguard her interests. Currently Africa's Participation in the JI dialogue is limited, compared to Latin America and Asia.

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