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LONDON (Reuters) - Private individuals from car drivers in Brazil to African peasants may soon benefit from rich world funds to fight climate change, said Jose Miguez, climate change coordinator for Brazil's science and technology ministry.
Rich countries can meet their targets under the Kyoto Protocol on global warming by funding emissions cuts in developing countries, but such funds have drawn criticism both for alleged abuses and for focusing on big, industrial projects.
Now simple, replicable activities, like changing an old inefficient light bulb, can by-pass bureaucratic hurdles, opening the way for private individuals to apply.
"This is the first attempt to involve society as a whole," Miguez said on Tuesday, on the fringes of a climate change conference in London.
China cornered 60 percent of emissions cuts in a market worth $4.8 billion last year, after a clutch of big chemical plants claimed carbon credits for destroying an especially potent greenhouse gas.
By contrast, sub-Saharan Africa excluding South Africa has seen less than 1 percent of total investment.
While the recent rule change may not add much to the amount of money Africa gets, it could involve more people, by waiving the requirement for each successive project to apply separately for approval, where they are very similar.
Peasants whose only supply of energy now is burning wood, diesel or kerosene will be able to apply for funding to install simple renewable sources of energy like wind and solar, which produce fewer greenhouse gases, said Miguez, who is also a member of the U.N. panel which vets projects.
Similarly, households which may have just one light bulb will be able to apply for funding to buy a more efficient one.
But such funding may not cover the entire cost, and will still be overseen by a local monitoring agency, which local governments may not be able to afford.
Brazil has also in the past complained that it hasn't been rewarded under the Kyoto scheme, called the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), despite its thriving ethanol industry.
Ethanol is derived from sugar cane plants which themselves absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and so is a cleaner alternative to oil.
Miguez is now working with Brazil's Ministry for Development Industry and Trade to enable as many as hundreds of thousands of car drivers to get carbon credits for filling their tanks with ethanol instead of gasoline.
"I think it'll take a couple of years," he said.
The former chair of the U.N. project approval panel fended off recent allegations of abuses and fraud by project developers, while acknowledging a potential conflict of interest where developers choose their local approving body, called a designated operational entity (DoE).
"They could agree together what the emissions cuts will be," he said. "For me if the vast majority of projects are additional that's enough."