CDM begins to roll

Global warming doesn't sound quite right when half of India is reeling under a cold wave. We apologise. But the World Meteorological Organisation recently announced that 2003 was the third hottest year since weather records started. The first and the second warmest years are also in the collective rapid access memory -- 1998 and 2002, respectively. Climate change used to be a theoretical discussion once upon a time. Today, it is real

 
Last Updated: Sunday 07 June 2015

-- GLOBAL warming doesn't sound quite right when half of India is reeling under a cold wave. We apologise. But the World Meteorological Organisation recently announced that 2003 was the third hottest year since weather records started. The first and the second warmest years are also in the collective rapid access memory -- 1998 and 2002, respectively. Climate change used to be a theoretical discussion once upon a time. Today, it is real.

What are the ways to deal with it? Well, there is the Kyoto Protocol of 1997, in which industrialised countries admitted their responsibility in causing global warming. They agreed to cut down carbon emissions, mainly responsible for global warming, from the 1990 levels by 5 per cent by 2012. The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) was created as an enabling instrument. It allowed industrialised countries to invest in projects that would reduce carbon emissions in developing countries because it is cheaper to cut emissions there. The idea was that CDM would encourage the poorer countries to develop without making the mistakes that the industrialised countries had made -- become gargantuan carbon emitters.

However, the poorest countries in Asia and Africa are not really benefiting from CDM projects. Most are going to larger developing countries like India and Brazil (see: 'Rat race'). Environmental groups have been sceptical about equitable geographical distribution of CDM projects. But no provision was introduced in the Kyoto Protocol to ensure this. It merely asked countries to promote distribution of projects in an equitable fashion. Lesson: nothing comes voluntarily in climate politics.

Those wanting to implement a CDM look for a stable economy, good infrastructure, favourable policies, and large quantities of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to reduce. The poorest developing countries are obviously ignored. Africa, for example, is responsible for only 2-3 per cent of the total human-made GHG emissions. Small developing countries seem to have lost the race before it has begun. The word development is quite clearly a misfit in CDM. The mechanism's aim is to make it easy for industrialised countries to get away with little real effort. It is cheap development for the rich and polluting countries.

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