Climate Change

Miracle cure or placebo?

While CDM has been touted as the solution to all climate negotiation problems the reality is much different. This free market will impose huge costs on future generations in Southern countries.

Published: Monday 20 November 2000

CDM was formulated overnight at Kyoto to offer temporary relief to Northern countries in meeting their commitments. Since then, quacks have seen its potential and packaged it into the miracle cure for all that troubles developing countries. Suffering from lack of ODA? Have some CDM. Want sustainable development? CDM could promote its growth. Adaptation funds? Technology transfer? No problem, try CDM.

This kind of propaganda has turned the tables to a point that Southern governments have begun to see it simply as free money being throw their way, a means of charitable ‘financial transfer’ to the South, a ‘win-win’ solution, as it has often been called by the North. Nothing could be further from the truth. CDM is purely a business transaction, where Southern nations have absolutely no idea of the value of what they are selling away for a few cowries today. At least, the negotiations do not indicate that they recognise the value of what they are selling.

What is being traded under CDM, in fact, are the rights of future generations to the atmosphere. What we sell cheap today, they will have to pay for dearly. Consider this one figure put forward by economists - carbon savings options that cost as little as US $10-25 per tonne today could end up costing up to US $200-300 per tonne in the long term. These are the costs we are imposing on our future generations. This is hardly a win-win situation, or even sound economics for developing countries.

The only way to ensure that the true value of what the South is selling in the free market is to have a strict set of underlying principles, which establishes the right of every human being to the Earth’s atmosphere. Otherwise, industrialised countries will have us exactly where they want us - vying with each other, driving down the price of CERs to provide them our cheap options at even cheaper prices.

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