Climate Action Network's View of the CDM

No-lose sectoral targets
No-lose sectoral targets

The Climate Action Network (CAN),  a large international coalition of environmental groups, sent an official submission to the UNFCCC commenting on the future of the CDM, in anticipation of the climate negotiations that began in Bonn yesterday.The submission criticized the current structure of the CDM because of the inherent subjectivity of additionality testing, resulting in the generation of rip-offsets and no true greenhouse gas emission reductions to the atmosphere.

The science is clear that if we want to stabilize the atmosphere at 450 ppm (still 170 ppm over pre-industrial CO2 levels), then industrialized countries must reduce emissions by 25-40% compared to 1990 levels by 2020 and developing countries need to reduce their emissions by 15-30% below business as usual (BAU).  This calls into question the efficacy of offsetting emissions in the first place.

The submission went on to comment on proposals that nations are considering for the
CDM in the post-2012 framework.  CAN rejected almost all of the proposals because
they do not address the fundamental problems of the CDM.  The only proposal that CAN
could potentially support is sectoral no-lose targets. In such a scheme, a target is set below BAU for a specific sector such as transportation or power (see figure).  The area below the BAU line represents greenhouse gas emission reductions. But a country can only receive carbon credits once the emissions from a sector are below the no-lose target. It is called no-lose, because there is no penalty if a developing country does not lower emissions below the target, since it is not binding. There are a number of open questions surrounding no-lose targets such as, is it fair to push developing nations toward a targeted emission reduction?  How the no-lose target and BAU are set is the key to establishing whether such a scheme would help or harm the atmosphere.