____ development mechanism


Published: Tuesday 15 November 2005

-- in 1996, during climate change negotiations, Brazilian representatives made a constructive proposal --introduction of financial payments by the North for a clean development fund, to finance sustainable development activities in the South. The North took the idea and turned the fund into a carbon-trading device , and called it the Clean Development Mechanism (cdm). Observers from the South immediately termed it the cheap development mechanism. So it remains, today.

In terms of its 'virtual market', cdm could well be called the corrupt development mechanism. Developed nations use it to meet their emission reduction targets by paying peanuts. And if one pays peanuts, one only gets monkeys. This is reflected in the quality of cdm projects proposed by the South. Rather than leading to sustainable development and helping communities, most cdm projects line the pockets of the rich in developing nations: business-as-usual ventures, for profits only.

cdm is also a co-opted development mechanism. An ethical imperative is sutured to this mechanism: committment by the nations of the world to combat climate change. Today, that imperative is a faint scratch on the surface of a machine lubricated by lucre. And jargon: 'entities' respected worldwide for their expertise in appraising project activities make 'project design documents' that reads the same, whatever the project, or wherever it is set up. Such is the rhetoric that all a somnolent Executive Board can do is say 'yes' to projects that sustain the development of only consultants, and their private-sector clients. The jargon beggars all scrutiny. Meanwhile, companies that got money from the Montreal Protocol to phase out pollutants are today demanding cdm booty for processes created from Montreal aid. And the process ensures what the North gives from one hand it takes back from the other (in the form of fees paid to these 'entities', global all of them).

To take stock of the implementation of cdm is crucial at present -- in November-December 2005, during the 11th meeting of the conference of parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change , world leaders will debate what happens post-2012, when the first Kyoto commitment period to reduce greenhouse gas levels ends. If cdm is allowed to remain asymmetrical and iniquitous, it might only be remembered as the cadaverous development mechanism.

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