Keep the CDM Clean
7 December 2010
The lack of attention to the environmental integrity of the CDM is a stain on the reputation of international efforts. In December 2009, the CDM Executive Board registered its first coal-fired power project, setting off two reactions: a firestorm of criticism from around the world and a wave of opportunistic applications from other coal projects.
Rather than heed the well-founded alarm of civil society, the EB approved a second 1,100 MW Tirora supercritical coal project under a faulty methodology. With well-documented concerns about the additionality of supercritical coal, and no avenue for addressing the oversight, this sends a sharply negative message about the integrity of the CDM,
As for the CDM coal rush, it is a wonder to behold. Some 20-odd coal based projects – including the 4,000 MW Sasan Ultra Mega Power Project (UMPP) capable of earning almost 4 million carbon credits per year while emitting over 20 million tonnes of CO2 – now sit in the CDM pipeline. The attempt to rebrand supercritical coal technology as an additional ‘clean’ energy option seems almost Orwellian. In the case of Sasan, the Indian government has mandated the use of supercritical technology in its Ultra Mega Power Project (UMPP) program, clearly undercutting the additionality claim.
Supercritical coal is a non-additional baseline technology for many rapidly industrializing countries and should not qualify for eligibility under the CDM. This is a climate scandal: carbon credits for a non-additional coal power plant deprive the world of much needed emission reductions, contribute little to sustainable development and lock in fossil fuel infrastructure for decades to come. The EB must remove the stain coal is placing on our efforts here in Cancun.