The CDM's Hydro Hall of Shame

by Barbara Haya

Allain Duhangan Dam, India, 192 MW
The CDM application for this project states that the World Bank only financed it because of the expectation of CDM income. Yet the World Bank approved its funds for Allain Duhangan in October 2004, before the Kyoto Protocol entered into force, before any CDM projects had been registered, and before there was any certainty that carbon credits would have value. The dam's social and environmental impact assessment report from 2003 states that the project was the cheapest option for power generation in all of northern India. It is not credible that the World Bank funded this project only because they anticipated they might one day get income from the CDM. NGOs in India found that some of the most important impacts of the project were left unacknowledged in the environmental and social impact assessment and mitigation planning.
Approved by the CDM May 2007. Validator: Det Norske Veritas.
Italy is buying the offsets through the Italian Carbon Fund at the World Bank.

Jorethang Loop Dam, India, 96 MW
Public consultation with individuals directly affected by proposed CDM projects is a requirement for CDM registration, but these consultations are often not taken seriously. An Indian NGO visited villages directly affected by the Jorethang Loop hydropower project right after its public hearing and found many villagers were unaware of the hearing and of basic aspects of the project. The community and NGOs requested the project's environmental impact assessment and other project documents, but were ignored by the developer. The developer claimed that hydropower is not common practice in India, although it accounts for a quarter of total power generation - higher than the world average.
Approved by the CDM, February 2008. Validator: Det Norske Veritas.

Tala Dam, Bhutan, 1,020 MW
This massive hydro project, built in Bhutan to supply electricity to India, started construction in October 1996 before the CDM even existed on paper. In December 2007, eight months after all units were up and running, it entered the CDM approval process. Tala's application argues that: "The project proponents ... look up to CDM revenue to provide necessary coverage to any loss arising out of any unexpected difficulties during implementation and operation of the project activity." In other words, the developers are saying they should be able to sell offsets to help them pay for their cost overruns. As almost all large dams suffer large cost overruns, if the CDM approves Tala it would logically mean that any hydro project, whether it is already built, under construction, or planned, should be eligible to sell offsets.
In the validation stage since December 2007. Validator: Det Norske Veritas.

Campos Novos Dam, Brazil, 880 MW
This 880 MW hydro project has become a symbol of the human rights abuses inflicted on communities affected by large dams in Brazil. The dam displaced 3,000 people, many of whom have not received promised compensation. Protests against the project were met with police violence. Construction on the dam started in 2001 and was completed in 2005. In June 2006 a diversion tunnel collapsed causing an uncontrolled release of water that emptied the dam's reservoir. After extensive remedial works, it began generating electricity in May 2007. Eight months later the project applied for the CDM, arguing that it was "not a feasible alternative" to build the dam without CDM income, despite the fact that the dam was already built without CDM income.
In the validation stage since November 2007. Validator: Det Norske Veritas.

Sondu Miriu Dam, Kenya, 60 MW
This project's impacts include displacement of more than 1,000 households, diversion of the main water source for 1,500 households, eye and respiratory problems from construction dust, and harm to fisheries. Construction of Sondu Miriu started in 1999, more than five years before the Kyoto Protocol entered into force. An activist campaign to raise awareness of the social and environmental impacts of this project resulted in the shooting and arrest of Kenyan activist Argwings Odera by the police.
In the validation stage since July 2007. Validator: Det Norske Veritas.