Shining a Light on the Offsets Loophole

After the failure of Copenhagen, countries are meeting in Bonn this weekend to pick up the pieces and see if there can be an agreement that truly reduces emissions to keep global temperature rise in check. The primary goal of this meeting is to schedule negotiations for the next two years.

Some of our friends from the Climate Action Network (CAN) are in Bonn to influence the negotiations. Every morning, they publish the ECO newsletter, which is read by many delegates. Yesterday's ECO carried an article about closing the “Gigatonnes gap”, the difference between developed country emission reduction pledges and what science tells us is necessary to keep average global temperature rise below 2 C (of course, we think that temperature rise should be limited to 1!). According to Project Catalyst, this gap is between 5 and 9 gigatonnes of CO2, based on a 450 ppm scenario, which only has about a 50% chance of keeping global temperature rise below 2 C. Would you board a bus, if you knew it had a 1 in 2 probability of crashing?

In addition to the lack of ambitious pledges, another major reason for the gap are due to loopholes in forest accounting rules, the overallocation of emission permits to eastern European economies and of course, the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). As International Rivers has reported numerous times, the vast majority of CDM projects do not represent real emission reductions, since they would have happened anyways. Not only does the CDM not promote the transfer of clean technologies to developing countries, it allows developed countries to continue polluting. Also, many of the projects have adverse environmental and social impacts. Along with our partners in CAN, we will continue to work to get the offsets loophole closed.