LONDON (Reuters) - The United Nations said its Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) is growing steadily, having registered 3,000 carbon cutting energy projects to date.
Under the CDM, firms invest in projects that reduce climate-warming emissions in developing nations and receive credits called certified emissions reductions (CERs) in return.
The scheme began in 2005 and has clean energy projects in 71 countries.
As well as the 3,000 projects registered, another 2,600 projects are at various stages of the vetting process, the U.N. said.
“Growth remains steady. The number of projects beginning validation in the first three months of 2011 was 17 percent higher than in the same period in 2010,” it said in a statement on Thursday.
The U.N. said 1,039 projects have earned a total of more than 600 million CERs to date.
Analysts predict that a record number of U.N. carbon offsets, which are generated from the CDM, will be issued this year.
The U.N. has handed out more than 110 million CERs so far this year, compared to 132 million in the whole of 2010, setting up 2011 to reach a yearly issuance record which will keep prices subdued, analysts told Point Carbon News.
Procedures for handing out credits are being streamlined and a backlog of offsets is being cleared, partly leading to the issuance increase.
Thomson Reuters Point Carbon analysts forecast 1,092 million CERs will be issued by the end of 2012, which would see the U.N. award a further 322-387 million CERs next year.
Governments agreed last year at a U.N. climate meeting in Cancun that mechanisms like the CDM have a key role to play in fighting climate change.
But nations are still uncertain whether to change the shape of the CDM or keep its present form after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.
“The Clean Development Mechanism is still evolving and will continue to do so,” said UNFCCC executive secretary Christiana Figueres.
“But from the original concept to now, it has been a success way beyond the initial expectations, not only in the number of projects but also in its ability to attract private sector investment into bettering livelihoods and environments of people in the developing world,” she added.
The CDM has come under fire for being too opaque, too complex and not delivering additional emissions cuts. Last year, its integrity was dented when some project developers were accused of exploiting the system. (Reporting by Nina Chestney, editing by Anthony Barker)