Kudos to Our Friends at CDM Watch

Payal Parekh

The CDM Watch Team
The CDM Watch Team
Today I attended the advisory board meeting of CDM Watch. Two years ago, International Rivers, along with other NGOs that are critical of the CDM, found funds to restart CDM Watch. In two short years it has been very successful at being a thorn in the side of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) Executive Board, influencing policy making in the EU on quality restrictions on the use of offsets in the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), and running capacity-building workshops for NGOs and communities living in countries that host CDM projects.

At the most recent Executive Board meeting of the CDM, the Board decided to suspend the HFC-23 methodology. HFC-23 is a waste byproduct of the refrigerant manufacturing process that is awarded carbon credits due to the capture of the waste. Since it is a much more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2 (approx. 11,700 times more powerful), capturing a small amount of the gas results in a large number of credits. CDM Watch realized that this was providing manufacturers a perverse incentive to produce more of the gas than there was demand for, in order to be able to capture the waste. Essentially this meant that HFC-23 projects actually caused global emissions to rise. A letter written by CDM Watch pointing out these problems prompted the CDM Executive Board to order an investigation, which ultimately led to the suspension of the methodology.

Due to the persistent lobby work of CDM Watch, the European Commission has recommended that credits from HFC and N2O from adipic acid (N2O is a waste gas) be banned from the EU ETS, the largest offset trading scheme in the world. Sometime next year the European Commission will be looking at the issue of offset quality on a wider level. International Rivers will be working closely with CDM Watch to get large hydro dams banned from the EU ETS.

Over the past two years, CDM Watch has done numerous workshops to local NGOs and communities about the CDM and how they can submit comments. To this end, CDM Watch has also produced an excellent CDM tool kit, that lays out in clear, simple language what the CDM is, how it works, the problems associated with it, and how to influence the decision making process of the mechanism. It is available in five languages! We helped CDM Watch identify partners to invite to the workshops held in India, Brazil and China. In fact, this past fall I put together a presentation on hydro and the CDM that our Amazon Program Director, Brent Millikan gave at the CDM Workshop in Brasilia, Brazil.

International Rivers is excited to continue working in partnership with CDM Watch and wish them more campaign successes in the coming year.