LONDON Some lucrative projects which cut
greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries are still
getting U.N.-approval to sell carbon credits even though the
cuts may have happened anyway, a U.N. official said.
The loophole was fading out, he added.
Carbon trading allows rich countries to meet greenhouse gas
emissions targets by paying poor countries to make emissions
cuts for them, through the exchange of tradable carbon credits.
The credibility of the trade worth $5 billion last year has
been disputed by analysts who say some developing country
projects had been in the pipeline anyway, and so were not
delivering additional emissions cuts.
That view got some support on Wednesday from a member of
the U.N. panel which judges developing country projects, under
the U.N.'s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).
"If the answer is 'yes, the project would have happened
anyway' that's not what the CDM is for," said Lex de Jonge, who
is a member of the CDM executive board and an official at the
Dutch environment ministry, and was speaking at a carbon market
event in London.
"By far the most projects are ok... but some you can see
that there are huge profits."
Lucrative projects were successfully claiming carbon
credits by arguing that the U.N. process had removed
technological, awareness or other barriers.
"If they are silent on the huge profits and only mention
the barriers that's where I get nervous. This is an area that
we should look at more closely."
De Jonge added that a lack of staff resources at the U.N.
as recently as earlier this year had seen some undesirable
projects slip through, but said that the vast majority of
projects were now properly screened.
Carbon market participants have vigorously defended the CDM
"CDM is clearly working, if not 100 percent as intended, at
least toward the aim we look for," said Einar Telnes, a
director at private carbon project verifying firm DNV.
"Why should the CDM only encourage marginally financially
viable projects? This mechanism is supposed to govern the
long-term response to climate change, which can't be based on
Technology barriers were a genuine handicap to starting
greenhouse gas emissions cutting projects, and if the CDM
overcame those that was important, said Edwin Aalders, from the
lobby group the International Emissions Trading Association.