2017 was another busy year for Carbon Market Watch with reforms to the oversupplied European Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), the rise of new carbon markets, and concerted first steps to end offsetting mechanisms like the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).
As the world permanently passes the 400ppm CO2 threshold, pressure is growing to find real solutions to reduce our impact on the atmosphere, while protecting people and planet. Carbon Market Watch’s emphasis continues to be on making those solutions truly effective, participatory and a catalyst for long-term change.
Two years ago, countries came together under the UN and pledged to limit global warming to 1.5C through the Paris climate agreement and to set the world towards a more prosperous, just and climate-friendly future through the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development. 2017 marked the second year of these agreements and a reminder that governments must find responsible solutions that include citizens and communities, creating an environment of openness, transparency and honesty. Carbon Market Watch has taken up this mantle in 2017 by strengthening cooperation with networks in the global South to protect human rights, while campaigning closely with pan-European colleagues around the Effort Sharing Regulation, the EU’s largest climate instrument.
In 2017, we’ve also seen how countries increasingly choose carbon pricing as their preferred option to meet reduction targets, including in the aviation and shipping sectors. Our response to this trend has been the same as previous years: if market-based mechanisms are meant to do the job, they need to be effective, people-centred and free of any loopholes. We have become deeply involved in highlighting that any future aviation offsetting scheme must be transparent, have high environmental integrity, and not undermine national or regional pricing schemes like the EU ETS.
I’ve been involved with Carbon Market Watch, first as CDM Watch, for most of the 10 years of its existence. During this time, dedicated teams and networks have been tirelessly fighting to close the many loopholes within the EU ETS and offsetting mechanisms such as the CDM – in the face of the many powerful vested interests trying to keep those loopholes alive. I’m proud to see how those collective efforts as a network have not gone unnoticed and we are finally witnessing how more UN Member States increasingly support scrapping offsetting mechanisms beyond 2020. We welcome this because we believe that to achieve real long-term sustainable development, any future market-based mitigation mechanisms under the Paris Agreement must go beyond offsetting.
But while we celebrate our achievements, we also see with concern how new trends to promote market-based mitigation mechanisms around the globe come with a health warning of major loopholes that can do more damage than good. There are serious concerns that these continue prioritising financial interest over environmental integrity or human rights. This only reinvigorates our commitment to scrutinising relevant policy processes, provide evidence-based solutions, work as a constructive and independent voice and, crucially, help amplify the voices of communities affected by such decisions.
Carbon Market Watch Board Member