CDM reform: Mission impossible? (Watch This #6)

 WatchThis 6 - CDM reform - Mission impossible
Photo: David Blackwell
 By Eva Filzmoser, Carbon Market Watch

By Eva Filzmoser, Director, Carbon Market Watch


This year the underlying rules of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) will undergo reform. The negotiations in Bonn did nothing to advance this reform. However, a UNFCCC workshop that also took place during Bonn showed that negotiators finally seem to start listening to some of the fundamental problems of the CDM. However, too late?

Since both the CDM and JI are discussed under the so called Subsidiary Body for implementation (SBI), they were not discussed in Bonn because Russia, Belarus and Ukraine blocked the agenda for the entire length of the negotiations.

How the Doha AAU decision blocked the CDM Reform
Russia, Belarus and Ukraine wanted to express their discontent about how in Doha at COP18 the final documents were approved by the chair of COP18 without giving them a chance to object. All three countries were especially unhappy with the decisions that were taken dealing with the large surplus of AAUs from the first Kyoto commitment period and the new rules that would prevent build-up of new surplus under the second commitment period. It was clear that Russia did not have the intention to improve the negotiation process (they have stalled and bullied the process for many years). Instead Russia seemed to simply seek to demonstrate their ability to block the process.

CDM Reform Workshop in Bonn
In Bonn, the UNFCCC Secretariat organized a dedicated workshop on the review of CDM modalities and procedures. Since official negotiations were stalled, many delegates visited this workshop. The official workshop report available here is unfortunately a compromise summary of what was discussed. However, Carbon Market Watch as well as the Centre of International Environmental Law (Ciel), Earthjustice and representatives from communities in Panama walked away with a bit of hope that for once, fundamental issues such as human rights might eventually be addressed.The CDM workshop provided an opportunity to refresh delegates’ minds on the problems with offsetting and the implications of lax additionality rules. One important element of the workshop was the discussion about phasing out certain technologies that are highly likely not to be additional. Given the tarnished reputation of the CDM, the possibility to phase out coal power was being discussed and even supported by some participants.However, certain Parties that host many CDM projects did not seem to like the proposed changes. Some of them posited that everything was all right with the mechanism and that people who raised doubts about additionality were only showing their ignorance. We have yet to see whether delegates finally start to address (instead of ignore) the problems of the CDM. For more information about our detailed proposals for changes in the modalities and procedures, see here.

Highlights from the last CDM Executive Board Meeting
The 73th meeting of the CDM Executive Board preceded the Bonn UNFCCC intercessional conference. Here a summary of key decisions taken:

  • New approach was proposed on how to consider government policies
  • New work programme on standardized baselines
  • New work programme on the standardization of additionality
  • New methodologies for nitric acid plants

For a more detailed analysis of the CDM EB meeting decisions, please see our Highlights from the 73th CDM Executive Board Meeting. The next CDM EB meeting will take place from 22 to 26 July 2013. Background documents are available here.


Read more from Watch This! NGO Voices on Carbon Markets # 6


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CDM reform: Mission impossible? (Watch This #6)

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