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Wrap up of CDM Reform in Copenhagen (Newsletter #6)

The yearly meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol took place for the 5th consecutive time in Copenhagen (CMP.5) in December 2009. One off the aims was  to improve the current CDM and to establish a yearly work programme for the CDM Executive Board. The following novelties included in CMP decision -/CMP.5 “Further guidance relating to the clean development mechanism” (195 KB) are of importance for civil society organisations:


In addition to project participants and DOEs, the Board must now also take into account input from relevant international organizations in its decision-making process. The Board must report actions taken that enhance communication with project participants and stakeholders at the 6th CMP meeting in Mexico. – Note that according to the UNFCCC definition, stakeholders mean “the public, including individuals, groups or communities affected, or likely to be affected, by the proposed CDM project activity or actions leading to the implementation of such an activity”. Unfortunately, a good definition of a conflict of interest was deleted from the negotiation text in Copenhagen in “the spirit of compromise”. However, Board Members must now publish their Curricula vitae (CV), statements on conflicts of interest and details of any past and current professional affiliations. It is now up to civil society to cross check whether CVs are complete and whether they correspond to the declarations of conflicts of interest.

New project activities in the CDM

Civil society organisations strongly oppose the inclusion of carbon capture and storage (CCS) and forests in exhaustion (FiE)[1] as CDM project activity. However, these issues will now be discussed under the auspices of the UNFCCC´s Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA). Also the development of standardised baselines will be discussed under SBSTA. Ahead of the next SBSTA meeting to take place in June 2010, observer organisations are invited to make submissions to the development of standardized baselines. Only Parties can do so for the inclusion of CCS in the CDM. The deadline for both calls for submission is 22 March 2010. There was no timeline agreed for the process on the inclusion of FiE.

Sustainable development criteria to be published

While there was some kind of effort by certain negotiators to introduce harmonised criteria for sustainable benefits of CDM projects, the final text only reflects the weakest of all options discussed: DNAs are now encouraged to publish the criteria they use in assessing the contribution of project activities to sustainable development. This will hardly be enough to avoid that harmful projects will slip through the process.

Performance of designated operational entities

In addition to the policy framework on non-compliance by DOEs, the Board must develop and apply a system for continuous monitoring of the performance of DOEs and a system to improve the performance of these entities.

Appeal process also for stakeholders

A future appeal procedure could open new opportunities for civil society organisations against performance of DOEs and Board decisions. Parties agreed in Copenhagen to establish a procedure for considering appeals in the design, approval or implementation of CDM project activities or proposed CDM project activities. Appeals can also be brought by “stakeholders, directly involved and defined in a conservative manner” which should also address civil society organisations that submitted a comment to the project activity.

[1] The Board agreed that “forest in exhaustion” is an area of land that contained forest – established through planting, seeding and/or the human-induced promotion of natural seed sources – on   31 December 1989 and/or at the starting date of the project activity.  If the land at the starting date of the project activity is forest then, in the absence of the project activity, it would be converted to non-forested land through final harvesting within [5] years of the proposed starting date of the project activity.  If the land at the starting date of the project activity is non-forested land then, in the absence of the project activity, it is expected to remain as non-forested land.  (Annex 1 of annual EB report 2009).


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