CCS in the CDM: Time to End the Charade

5 December 2011

Treating the world’s most carbon intensive fossil fuel as an emissions offset may sound like a joke but it’s no laughing matter.

You know, ECO is usually pretty quick on the uptake, but even we were shocked to learn that there are 45 – count them! — coal projects in the CDM pipeline.

If all of the proposed projects are approved, they would emit 400 million tons of CO2 every year for many decades — more than the France or South Africa.

Diverting billions of euros in scarce climate finance to an already lavishly subsidized industry that causes severe human health and ecosystem damage will run our common mission right into the ditch.

How could this be? It’s a scandal that the CDM and the UNFCCC can ill afford. The demand to permanently exclude coal from the CDM makes complete sense.

The call for exclusion comes on the heels of last week’s CDM Executive Board suspension of the crediting rules for coal power projects. The suspension was decided after an investigation found that the flawed rules could lead to over-issuance of millions of carbon credits that do not reflect real and additional emission reductions.

It was good to see the suspension, but that doesn’t close the matter. Merely adjusting the current rules will not be a solution.

An independent study confirmed the flaws in the methodology and says those flaws are inherent to this project type. In essence, there is no way to revise the methodology and ensure emissions reductions.

Given the urgency of the climate crisis, only the exclusion of coal from the CDM at COP 17 can ensure that these projects do not undermine developed countries’ mitigation commitments under the Kyoto Protocol or divert significant levels of scarce climate finance to dirty energy projects.

That represents a clear and definite opportunity toward restoring the environmental integrity of the CDM here in Durban.

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