“What kind of news is this?” would be a righteous question for anyone familiar with the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). In fact, this flexibility tool has attracted its fair share of criticism over the years and for CDM consultants, experts and practitioners, the UNFCCC publicly acknowledging the shortcomings of the CDM is like NASA confirming that the earth still is round (or slightly ovoid, to be precise).
UNFCCC thus refused, until recently, to acknowledge insufficiencies of CDM (see prior blog for more details). There are good and bad reasons for this.
First for the good reasons: it is true that if you are steering one of the most complex international agreement to ever come into force (Kyoto Protocol), you will try to keep it on track. This implies trying to keep its credibility intact, thus keeping its legitimacy intact too. After all, Kyoto Protocol’s flexibility mechanisms are new market tools that have yet to prove their efficiency at the international level. Inserting these mechanisms into the Protocol was ambitious and the UNFCCC deserves credit for enabling this innovation to be mainstreamed.
Then, for the bad reasons: acknowledging a failure or a shortfall is no fun, having no recourse to denial after the coming-out. Nonetheless, this statement should have been issued a while ago.
Now that it has been acknowledged by the UNFCCC that CDM needed overhaul, those who benefit from CDM loopholes (for some hints, have a look at Red, Green and Blue’s article by Mridul Chadha) will probably fight back in some way, trying to maintain the statu quo.
For a vast majority of observers, consultants and scientists, however, this means we are finally getting serious about emission offsetting, even if it meant the official opening of the CDM Pandora’s box.
(Note: figures in image are as of April 2008)