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EU Parliamentary Question: Human rights violations related to Emissions Trading Scheme

Question for written answer to the European Commission
Rule 117
Bas Eickhout (Verts/ALE)

Subject: Human rights violations related to Emissions Trading Scheme
The Clean Development Mechanism has two equally important objectives: to create cost‑efficient emission reductions and to contribute to sustainable development. Earlier this year, several organisations, including CDM Watch and the Carbon Markets Investors Association, condemned human rights abuses in relation to the CDM project ‘Aguán biogas recovery from Palm Oil Mill Effluent (POME) ponds and biogas utilisation’. This project is at the centre of allegations directly linking its activities to killings of local residents over land conflicts. Moreover, there are serious concerns that the local stakeholder consultation was not conducted adequately, omitting the fundamental human right of public participation for the affected local communities. A decision about the project is expected at the 62nd meeting of the CDM Executive Board from 11-15 July 2011. Yet, despite the fact that EU Member States have signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the carbon credits from this project could, if registered, enter the European carbon market and be used to count towards climate targets under the EU ETS and the Effort Sharing Decision.1. What is the European Commission doing to ensure that the ‘ Aguán biogas recovery’ project is rejected if the local stakeholder consultation was conducted or announced in an inadequate manner? Is the European Commission, for example, engaged in a dialogue with the CDM Executive Board on this matter?2. Given that all EU Member States have signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, what is the European Commission doing to ensure that offset projects that violate human rights are banned from entering the European carbon market?3. Does the European Commission see the need for additional sustainability criteria for offset projects? If so, when and how will the European Commission address this?
Answer given by Ms Connie Hedegaard on behalf of the Commission on 9 August 2011
The approval or rejection of projects is under the responsibility of the CDM Executive Board (Board). Given the large number of projects and the fact that the Board is a rule-based implementing body, the Commission does not directly enter into a dialogue with the Board on individual projects. It (and Member States) does extensively participate in deciding the rules the Board has to observe when assessing projects.The rules governing the CDM currently do not include provisions for assessing possible human rights abuses linked to CDM projects. They do, however, provide for the assessment of sustainable development impacts by the host countries and for the assessment of how local and global stakeholder consultations were conducted. The Commission understands that the Board has undertaken an extensive investigation and after full consideration found that the stakeholder consultations met the existing regulatory requirements, and therefore it chose to register the project. Simultaneously, the Board agreed to start a review of the rules governing how project developers seek local advice on building CDM projects, and launched a call for public inputs (close 15 August). The Commission expects that revised guidelines for stakeholder consultations ensure better and timelier identification of potential problems and clearer instructions on how these are to be accommodated and assessed in the final project. More generally, transparency would be further enhanced by better and more standardised ways of reporting on the expected co-benefits and negative impacts of CDM projects. The Commission understands that the Board has also picked up on this and is working on proposals, including through launching a call for public inputs (ended on 3 July 2011).Alongside the role of host countries to assess the sustainable development impacts of projects taking place on their territory, it remains a decision for countries providing for credits demand to decide on the use of specific credits. The ETS Directive provides the possibility to introduce harmonised restrictions on the credits that can be used in the EU ETS where there are significant concerns about their economic, social or environmental merits. This possibility has been used once to restrict the use of credits from certain industrial gas projects(1). In that context, while the directive expressly authorises further use restrictions being introduced with a sufficient lead time during the course of phase 3, Member States have encouraged the Commission in the Climate Change Committee to put forward proposals for any further use restrictions by end 2012. The Commission will closely monitor whether there is a need to propose further use restrictions for certain (categories of) projects.

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