Tüv Süd Travelled with the Cops to a CDM Project

I recently met with the German DNA - a department of the German environment ministry that is responsible for all things related to the Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism - to further discuss whether Xiaoxi, remember, the Chinese dam that has displaced 7,500 people, was indeed environmentally and socially benign and should therefore be allowed to sell carbon credits to German companies. The German DNA approved the project last year, based on an assessment by German company Tüv Süd.

The Tüv Süd assessment says that the displaced people have not suffered any social or cultural disadvantages through the project. A new report from a field trip by the International Rivers consultant Tina Lea says that many displaced people are now worse off then they have been before.

Even before we heard from Tina Lea that indeed many people are today worse off than before, we doubted Tüv Süd's assessment that nobody had been disadvantaged due to the project. And we are not the only ones that doubt that large dams that displace thousands of people do not have any negative impacts.

Gustaf Klarin from Swedish Radio also doubted that 100% of the people that were going to be displaced by the Tongwan project, a 180MW hydropower project from which Swedish company Tricorona buys carbon credits, were happy to be displaced. Again, it was Tüv Süd that had assessed the Tongwan project and that had declared that everyone there is happy.

Gustaf Klarin, on his journey to China, tried to talk to the Tongwan displaced people themselves, to find out what they thought. He was not allowed to speak to them. He therefore asked Thomas Oberst of Tüv Süd how they had talked to the people at Tongwan. Thomas Oberst explained that Tüv Süd had travelled with the police when they had conducted interviews with people affected by the Tongwan project. Gustaf Klarin has documented these findings in several radio pieces for Swedish Radio that were aired in January 2009.

Tüv Süd's practice of conducting interviews with displaced people at Tongwan in the presence of the police would certainly explain why they were told that everyone was happy with their big dam.

I however doubt that these kinds of reports will much longer be regarded as sufficient documentation for European governments who seek to approve large dams for the carbon market.