The Clean Development Mechanism: An assessment of current practice and future approaches for policy

TitleThe Clean Development Mechanism: An assessment of current practice and future approaches for policy
Publication TypeTyndall Working Paper
SeriesTyndall Centre Working Papers
Secondary TitleTyndall Centre Working Paper 114
KeywordsAssessment, Clean Development Mechanism, current practice, future approaches, policy
AuthorsBoyd, E., N. E. Hultman, T. Roberts, E. Corbera, J. Ebeling, D. Liverman, K. Brown, R. Tippmann, J. Cole, P. Mann, M. Kaiser, and M. Robbins
Year of Publication2007

The 1997 Kyoto Protocol obliged industrialized countries to reduce their emissions to specific targets by the period 2008-2012. A core principle in the Kyoto Protocol was to protect the climate system “for the benefit of present and future generations of humankind, on the basis of equity and in accordance with their common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities” (Article 3.1). The UNFCCC, by incorporating the principle of global cost-effectiveness of emissions reductions (Article 3.3), encouraged geographical and temporal flexibility to achieve these reductions. The Kyoto Protocol established the first global mechanisms for the trading of carbon permits, so that reductions in emissions could occur where they are more economically efficient. Poor nations were exempt from the Protocol’s binding limits but, in what was to become a key provision, were able to participate in the global project of emissions reductions by hosting projects under the Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism, or CDM. The Clean Development Mechanism thus enabled developing nations to participate in the treaty by selling emissions credits, termed “certified emissions reductions” (CERs), to parties with commitments to reduce their greenhouse gases. These CERs were to be subject to a process of certification and verification by the U.N. accrediting body under the treaty before sale. Unlike allowance trading, in which Parties are granted a quota of emissions and may then trade under this cap, the CDM is a project-based approach to reducing emissions, with new credits continuously being created as new projects are approved. It was intended from the beginning that the CDM would create sustainable development benefits for developing nations. Expectations were high to the billions of euros expected to flow from the global North to South through the CDM, generating substantial new development and a new impulse for environmental protection there.

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