Anyone remember that Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) pickle we’ve been moaning about for an eye-wateringly long time? Clearly, the Panamanians have been rummaging through the old ECO archives and taken the hint.
In February 2015, the construction of the Barro Blanco hydroelectric dam, a project registered under the CDM, was suspended by Panama’s national environment agency due to breaches of the national environmental impact assessment requirements. It turns out there were shortcomings in the agreement with the locally affected indigenous communities.
It’s a no brainer that this wasn’t anything like best practice. So let’s put it in the spotlight: the suspension by Panama is a landmark decision in the history of the CDM. It was also just in time for the Geneva pledge on human rights. The CDM still does not offer any compliance mechanism for affected communities, so this is a really important step forward.
And Barro Blanco is not an isolated case. Quite a few CDM registered projects have been strongly opposed by local communities. Negative social and environment impacts and human right violations do not make a very good sales pitch. Other examples are the Sasan coal power plant in India and the Santa Rita hydro dam in Guatemala.
ECO would like to see the establishment of a CDM grievance mechanism. Parties have an opportunity to make this happen during the currently ongoing discussion of of the modalities and procedures for the CDM within the SBI. A strong decision is essential towards operationalising the 2010 Cancun agreement, which called on all parties to fully respect human rights in all climate change related actions.