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Annual report 2023

Foreword by Sabine Frank

Cover of CMW’s annual report 2023

It was another year of record-breaking temperatures. Not only was 2023 the hottest year on record by a stretch, but each month from June onwards was the warmest from that month ever recorded. Moreover, every day was 1°C or more warmer than the pre-industrial norm for that day and the world came perilously close to the 1.5°C limit it is seeking not to overshoot.

Not to sound like a broken record, but what these broken records illustrate is that the heat is on to tackle the climate crisis rapidly and robustly. And Carbon Market Watch was there, along with allies in the environmental movement, demanding action, exposing inaction and formulating feasible, science-based paths forward.

So how is the world doing?

Last year’s record was a mixed one. Encouragingly, the European Union managed to wind up its mammoth ‘Fit for 55’ package of measures and regulations aimed at slashing 55% off its net carbon footprint by 2030. However, the proof of the pudding was in the testing, and many of the compromise measures proved not to go far enough or to be too unambitious or riddled with loopholes to make a difference.

At the global level, the situation was patchier still. COP28 ended up with no significant new commitments to reduce emissions, though some progress was made on climate finance for developing countries. However, when it came to Article 6 carbon markets, there was deadlock – but this failure avoided a worse outcome.

Beyond governments, we also kept an eye on the corporate world and the voluntary carbon market. We not only exposed greenwashing but also scored significant successes in combating outrageous climate claims. We saw self-regulatory initiatives of the voluntary carbon market take important strides towards bringing more integrity to the trade in carbon credits. This change in direction was in part due to the pivotal role of civil society and the media in highlighting the shortcomings of the existing system and exposing foul play where it occurred. Some members of the old ‘VCM guard’ left their posts.

Throughout these processes, CMW played its dual role as watchdog and research institute: we analysed the proposals on the table, provided policy recommendations, opposed bad choices and supported good ones. We know how to ‘growl’ at problems but are just as ready to ‘wag our tail’ when we see solutions.

In this annual report, we’ve compiled the highlights of 2023 and the successes we achieved. We could not have accomplished this without the talent, passion and dedication of our staff. Our team has thrived through its daily cooperation. We have sweated together on fundraising applications and reports, but also on a city cycling tour and a summer dance in the park. We encourage each other to make the best use of our strengths and to honour our convictions in our day-to-day lives. We have been buoyed by the unwavering support of our honorary board, members, funders and allies.

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