Decisions on the CDM in Poznan

Cop 14 in Poznan, Poland
Cop 14 in Poznan, Poland
I have just come from a meeting of the NGOs working on the CDM, as well as the big Climate Action Network daily meeting. The mood is bad, real bad. First on the CDM: as Payal reported earlier, all issues pertaining to the future of the CDM, where the real potential for a fundamental restructuring of the mechanism lies, have been postponed to next year. And for the current CDM, up to 2012, only governance issues were on the table. But still, changes on those governance issues would have made a difference. To have the validators (the DOEs in CDMtalk) be selected and paid for by the UNFCCC Secretariat, and not by the project developers themselves, would have been a good step in the right direction. We also pushed for a stronger role of the Secretariat in all project decisions, so that a professional, independent, full-time body would make the difficult decisions on the additionality and the environmental integrity of potential CDM projects.

Today, after this morning's meeting of the so called contact group on the CDM, where delegations from all countries take part, we know that NO PROGRESS has been made even on the two small CDM governance issues!!! We are so disappointed, that nothing of substance has been agreed here. The questions of whether projects, and remember we now have 730 hydroprojects in the CDM pipeline, should be approved for the CDM will remain with the CDM Executive Board. This body meets every two months for a week to make these highly disputed and technical decicions.

To address the conflict of interest between the validators and the project developers, nothing concrete has been put on the table. No solution. The CDM contact group has only asked the Executive Board to analyze means to enhance the impartiality of the DOEs. What we can take from this is that the problem has been recognized, but that there was no consensus on how to solve it.

At the same time, we are watching with horror signs that the EU might decide to raise the allowance for all member states to meet their emission reduction obligations by buying CDM credits. People here in the corridors of the Poznan convention centre think that the EU wants to be able to meet most of their mitigation (i.e. emission reduction) commitments by buying credits through the flexible mechanisms (i.e. the CDM).

This is really bad because in order for us to avoid catastrophic levels of climate change, industrialized countries need to drastically reduce their emissions at home. The CDM is a loophole that allows them to not reduce at home and instead support projects in the South where its not even sure that they reduce emissions or are environmentally and socially friendly, see hydro for example. If this loophole is now even widened, as rumours here suggest, the chances of us avoiding dramatic levels of climate change are getting slimmer and slimmer.

Axel Michaelowa from the research institute Perspectives in Switzerland confirmed at a side-event last night that more and more hydropower projects are entering the CDM pipeline, and that these projects are getting bigger and bigger. We now have 730 hydropower projects in the pipeline, more than a quarter of all projects - and Axel Michaelowa said that a 1,000MW project in India has just entered the pipeline.

In the hallways of Poznan, I also learned that project developers are currently travelling the hills and valleys of the beautiful Himalayan regions in India to look for more hydropower projects around 100 MW that could enter the CDM pipeline. I am sure they got the idea to search for hydro in the Himalayas after reading our new report, Mountains of Concrete, on dam building in the Himalayas...