When creating the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), the Kyoto Protocol described three main aims: meeting greenhouse gas reduction targets, sustainable development, and providing emissions cuts for the lowest cost. This study argues that these three aims represent powerful discourses, justifying the European Union’s continued reliance on offset credits from the CDM. Furthermore, when advising policy-makers, NGOs may find it difficult to overtly oppose offsetting due to the power of these ideas. However, it also argues that these three discourses may provide some opportunities for NGOs to form new narratives, highlighting some of the contradictions inherent in offsetting.
The Sharm el-Sheikh climate conference’s final deal on Article 6 opens the door to secret carbon market deals between countries with little oversight. On a positive note, a new type of carbon credit could help spell the end of offsetting, but the agreement falls far short of what is needed.