This paper analyzes the development of unilateral Clean Development Mechanism projects (uCDMs) as the dominant project pattern in China’s CDM market. It intends to reveal the political and economic reasons of such dominance and argues that the uCDMs pattern is particularly favored by powerful actor groups, mainly business actors, involved in the CDM project circle. The corporate or business strategy, interests and day-to-day practices hence become an important governance element to develop and maintain the dominance of unilaterally financed CDM in the market.
The flourish of uCDMs is an important deviation of the initial assumption of CDM, which is generally believed to be a mechanism of joint implementation of projects between developing and developed nations and companies. These observations in China, the world leading CDM market today, have also notable implications on how carbon market is governed ‘from below.’