No climate finance for coal! Join our fight! (Watch this! #3)

See Watch This! #3, October 2012

By Antonia Vorner, Network Coordinator, CDM Watch

Last month coal was let back into the CDM. Yes you heard right, despite all evidence new heavily polluting coal power plants can once again apply to earn carbon credits. So, theoretically, a coal-fired power plant in Europe can still offset its emissions with carbon credits from another dirty coal power plant in India. The situation is absurd! It’s the worst decision the CDM Executive Board has made in years and essentially helps to subsidise the construction of new coal power plants. This must be stopped. No more climate finance to coal!

Currently there are 6 registered coal power projects in the CDM. All of them are business-as-usual projects meaning they would have been built regardless of the CDM. Over the next 10 years they will receive about 90 million undeserved carbon credits. But there is hope! Over the past years CDM Watch has fought hard against these projects, which resulted getting 4 projects rejected and 10 projects terminated their validation processes. Yet, victory for the environment is still far away. Another 26 projects are currently under validation and can apply for registration at any moment. Together, they could potentially add another 220 million carbon credits over the next ten years.

Coal facts

1kWh of electricity from coal produces about 1kg of C02

Electricity from coal produces about twice as much C02than electricity from natural gas

Over 40% of world electricity is generated from coal

Total coal combustion causes over 12 Giga tonnes of CO2 emissions/year, where two thirds comes from electricity production

Coal accounts for about 25% of all global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (source: IEA 2010)

No coal offsets in the EU ETS

Against the current state of the carbon market, where one carbon credit is worth less than 1$US, you mightask: why bother with it?! Here’s why: carbon credits from the 6 currently registered coal power plants are eligible to sell their offsets to the European Unions’ Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS). New projects registered after 2012 are only eligible for the EU ETS if the CDM projects are located in Least Developed Countries (LCDs). All CDM coal power projects are right now situated in either China or India. It is therefore essential that we make sure that: 1) no more coal power projects get registered before the end of the year, and 2) the EU bans carbon credits from the coal power plants already registered.

No coal offsets to achieve climate goals in the EU or elsewhere!

But that’s not all. Only half of the emission reductions in the EU are covered by its ETS. The other half is regulated by the so-called “Effort Sharing Decision” stipulating rules to reduce emissions in the sectors not covered by the ETS, such as agriculture and transport. For these sectors, national EU governments can decide how they want to go about reducing their emissions. Governments can buy more than 50% of all reduction efforts from international offsets. So, even if no more coal projects get registered before 2013, EU Member States can still buy offset credits from coal power plants if registered after 2013. Moreover, other emission trading schemes are emerging in places like Australia, New Zealand and South Korea and they are also considering to link them with the EU ETS. Further still, although the international aviation sector is working on measures to reduce its emissions (e.g. building airplanes more environmentally friendlier) but this is deemed expensive, they are thinking of doing so simply by investing in offset projects that could potentially include the remaining CDM coal power projects.

What else there is to say than: we must ACT NOW to kick coal out of the CDM! Contact if you want to join us in the fight against climate finance for coal.