Today’s climate campaign embarrassment comes to us courtesy of Nature magazine once again, which has a story in the current issue about how the UN’s “Clean Development Mechanism” (CDM), which was essentially a fig leaf for wealth transfers from industrialized nations to poor developing nations, isn’t working according to plan. The CDM is a prototype for a global cap and trade system, whereby industrial sources of greenhouse gas emissions would pay to “offset” their emissions by paying for projects that would reduce the growth of emissions in developing nations like China and India.
There has been rampant fraud in this program since the beginning, which is a feature rather than a bug for the UN of course. Naturally the UN wants to expand this program and increase the amount of money rich nations send to poor nations, since, as one leading German climate diplomat, Ottmar Edenhoffer, put it indelicately last fall: “But one must say clearly that we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy. Obviously, the owners of coal and oil will not be enthusiastic about this. One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy anymore.”
The most fun aspect of this story is that the damaging information comes courtesy of the Wikileaks folks. Obviously they didn’t get the memo that they’re only supposed to serve leftist causes. The Nature article may be behind a subscriber firewall, so here are the relevant passages:
[The CDM] allows rich countries to offset some of their carbon emissions by investing in climate-friendly projects, such as hydroelectric power and wind farms, in developing countries. Verified projects earn certified emission reductions (CERs) — carbon credits that can be bought and sold, and count towards meeting rich nations’ carbon-reduction targets.
But a diplomatic cable published last month by the WikiLeaks website reveals that most of the CDM projects in India should not have been certified because they did not reduce emissions beyond those that would have been achieved without foreign investment. Indian officials have apparently known about the problem for at least two years.
“What has leaked just confirms our view that in its present form the CDM is basically a farce,” says Eva Filzmoser, programme director of CDM Watch, a Brussels-based watchdog organization. The revelations imply that millions of tonnes of claimed reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions are mere phantoms, she says, and potentially cast doubt over the principle of carbon trading. “In the face of these comments it is no wonder that the United States has backed away from emission trading,” Filzmoser says.