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The Kyoto Protocol will cut the developing world's greenhouse gas emissions by at least one billion tonnes by the end of 2012, according to the United Nations.

The organisation announced last week (9 June) that projects planned under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), which encourages companies to invest in reducing emissions in the South, had reached the one billion milestone.

The expected emissions reductions are equivalent to eliminating the combined annual emissions of Spain and the United Kingdom. 

The programme has recorded more than 800 projects that are already underway or planned. They include wind farms, power plants that burn sugar cane waste, and efforts to capture gases emitted from landfill sites.

Nearly 300 projects of these have registered or are in the process of registering with the CDM scheme, and the UN expects the remainder to register as well.

Most projects are in Brazil and India; although Africa is lagging behind, the continent has seen a five-fold increase in CDM projects over the past year.

"It is up to the political decision-makers to ensure that investment takes place in their countries. These are first and foremost economic decisions," a spokesperson for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change told SciDev.Net.

Janos Pasztor, who coordinates CDMs at the climate change secretariat, said that governments are expected to address the uneven geographical distribution of projects at the United Nations climate change summit in November.