Hydropower in the CDM: Examining Additionality and Criteria for Sustainability

Barbara Haya and Payal Parekh
Monday, November 28, 2011

Haya and Payal, 2011
Haya and Payal, 2011

A study released by the University of California at Berkeley shows that large hydro projects under the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) do not comply with the mechanism’s essential additionality requirements because they are being built regardless of the climate financing. CDM carbon credits from such business-as-usual projects increase global emissions because they can be bought by industialised countries to meet climate targets. The study shows that these projects are not being built because of CDM support but because of non-financial or strategic decisions by governments, such as energy security. This is especially so in China and India, who host well over two-thirds of the total capacity of hydropower in the CDM. 

The study also looks at social and environmental impacts of hydropower projects and assesses the implementation of the EU's screening process to filter out especially harmful hydropower projects. Recommendations include independent oversight of the validation process by EU Member States and public access to the compliance reports.