China's Duan to chair UN carbon executive board

* Chair position runs through early 2013

* Former chair takes position as vice chair

LONDON, Feb 27 (Reuters) - Maosheng Duan of China was on Monday named chairman of the executive board for the Clean Development Mechanism, becoming the first person from the world’s top polluter to oversee the UN-backed carbon market for developing nations.

Duan succeeds Britain’s Martin Hession, who will now serve as vice-chair of the CDM executive board, said the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in a statement from Bonn. Both positions run through early next year.

Duan, who joined the executive board in 2010 and served as its vice-chair in 2011, is a professor at the Institute of Energy, Environment and Economy, Tsinghua University.

The CDM paves the way for emissions-reduction projects in developing nations by awarding their investors from developed countries with carbon credits called certified emission reductions (CERs).

The CERs can be used by governments and companies in the developed world to offset their emissions against national or regional targets.

The UN has issued more than 872 million CERs since the CDM’s inception, with projects in China accounting for nearly 60 percent of the total number of credits handed out to date.

A record number of CER issuances last year was among one of the factors that drove secondary CER prices to a record low below 4 euros a tonne late last year.

At the same time, demand for the carbon credits has suffered because of a debt crisis in the European Union, the biggest buyer of CERs.

Benchmark CERs were trading just over 5 euros a tonne on Monday. (Reporting by Jeff Coelho; editing by James Jukwey)