Cancun 2010

Cancun and the Future of Offsetting

Get Out of Jail Free
Get Out of Jail Free In the wee hours of Saturday morning in Cancun at the UN Climate Conference, delegates managed to agree to a set of decisions. They are not enough to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, but they do allow negotiations to continue for another year under the auspices of the multilateral, consensus-based process of the UN. Unfortunately the current pledges contained in the negotiating text are not in line with what the science demands – an analysis published by the UN Environment Program suggests that temperature could rise by as much as 4 degrees Celsius – which mea

Lobby Work Pays Off in Cancun

At the international climate negotiations it is easy to get discouraged and wonder if the efforts of civil society can really influence the process. A success on the penultimate evening of the negotiations made all of the days of despair worth it.  Two decisions agreed to by all countries improve the terms of reference for the Clean Development Mechanism Executive Board members and expand the criteria against which standardized baselines would be evaluated. We, along with our friends in the Climate Action Network , a coalition of over 500 international environmental groups, had been lobby

Dirty Hydro Parading as a Clean Technology at Climate Talks

Hydropower, a dinosaur technology
Hydropower, a dinosaur technology The large number of industry lobbyists running around the climate talks makes one wonder whether it's a venue to hammer out a deal to save the planet or if it's an industry trade show. You can bet that the hydro industry is here in full force. They managed to get an interview on the UN's climate change video channel espousing myths about hydro being clean and green. And a couple of evenings ago in a side event about global feed-in tariffs, a representative of the International Hydropower Association (IHA) was on the panel talking about how

Kudos to Our Friends at CDM Watch

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 rec

First Week Roundup: CDM and the Negotiations

Sunset in Cancun at the end of the first week.
Sunset in Cancun at the end of the first week. The first week of negotiating has passed, so it is a good time to take stock of new developments in the negotiations as they relate to the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and new market-based mechanisms. On Saturday, chairs of the two tracks of negotiations brought out new texts. One track covers the Kyoto Protocol, which focuses on emissions reductions targets for developed countries post-2012, when the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol ends. The other track is aimed at ensuring that the United States takes on a comparable effort

"CDM: Changing Lives" for the Worse

Energy-efficient CDM Light Bulb Project, India
Energy-efficient CDM Light Bulb Project, India The Climate Secretariat of the UN puts its PR machine into gear every year with its "CDM Changing Lives Photo and Video Contest." Is it a way for the the UN to spruce up the image of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and deflect criticism? The winners of the contest were announced earlier this week by the head of the UN Climate Convention. The winning photos were of a project to install energy efficient light bulbs in India, a methane avoidance project in Brazil, and a wind farm in Egypt. All very beautiful images. Yet it is q

Fun and Games with the Executive Board of the CDM

Every year at the Climate Conference, the Executive Board of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) holds a meeting with the public. This year was no different. After giving a brief presentation on the issues they had been working on this past year, the Chair of the Board opened up the floor to questions from the audience. Given that civil society (unlike carbon traders and project developers) have few chances to interact with the Board, our partners and I took advantage of this forum to raise questions. Last year at the climate conference in Copenhagen, the CDM Board was given the manda

El Quimbo Dam – Poster Child of a Faulty CDM Project

Resistance to El Quimbo dam by the local community.
Resistance to El Quimbo dam by the local community. Beehive Collective International Rivers continues to submit comments to the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) Executive Board pointing out problems with proposed hydropower CDM projects. Most recently, I  prepared comments on the El Quimbo Project on the Magdalena River in Colombia. This megadam, 400 MW at full capacity, is neither additional nor does it promote sustainable development. Additionality is the flawed concept upon which the CDM is based – a project must prove that it would not be built without the additional funding made

The Heat is on the CDM in Cancun

"Human Hurricane" by in Mexico City
The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancun, MexicoNovember 29 - December 10, 2010 "Human Hurricane" by in Mexico City Photographer: Ricardo Villarreal T./Artist: Pablo Caballero. For the next two weeks, 192 nations are meeting in Cancun to discuss how best to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change. Unfortunately, not much progress is expected. The big polluters, in particular the developed countries that have historically emitted the bulk of greenhouse gases, are not willing to reduce emissions by anything like the levels that the science demands. An

Earth Art Sends Powerful Global Message on Climate Change

350 eARTh - Santa Fe, New Mexico
350 eARTh - Santa Fe, New Mexico Michael Clark, In less than a week, government leaders, civil society participants, and media will be gathering in Cancun for COP16 to once again try to hammer out a climate treaty. And with it's usual impeccable timing, has once again mobilized it's worldwide supporters to send a powerful message to world leaders. is holding an art show called eARTh, a planetary-scale endeavor for a planetary problem, with many of its earth art visible from space. For instance, this Santa Fe, New Mexico, eARTh event shows h
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