CDM Executive Board decides to put the methodology used by coal power plants to earn carbon credits under further scrutiny
The coal energy industry’s attempts to sell itself as clean enough to earn carbon credits through the UN-backed clean development mechanism (CDM) may not pay off in future. In a meeting that concluded last week at the CDM Executive Boards’ headquarters at Bonn, the board members wanted the methodology used for evaluating coal-fired plants to be revised yet again despite already having undergone significant revisions in the past one year. Until this revision gets cleared by the board, projects that are yet to get registered will have to wait. At present, there are 45 projects in the validation stage, pending registration. The decision comes at a time when time is running out for such plants. That’s because starting January 1, 2013, the EU, the largest buyer of such carbon credits or certified emission reductions (CERs) will only be accepting carbon credits from the poorest countries. This leaves out countries such as India and China where most of these coal CDM projects are located.
According to Eva Filzmoser, director of CDM Watch, a Brussels-based CDM watchdog, “coal power projects not only pose severe harm to the climate, they also threaten the health of local communities, ultimately failing to deliver sustainable development.” “We applaud the board’s decision which essentially marks the end of dirty carbon credits from coal power in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme.”
How clean can coal get?
Coal is one of the most carbon-intensive fuels. But by using better boiler technology in coal-powered thermal power plants, it is possible to make such plants more efficient and hence less carbon-intensive. But by how much is the question. Reports prepared by the CDM methodology panel and Stockholm Environment Institute in 2011 suggest the methodology that is used by applicants is systemically flawed, allowing companies to show more reductions than might actually have taken place by manipulating the data. One report states that this overestimation could be as high as 250 per cent. Further, the amount of CO2 emissions reduced due to such technological improvements in coal plants would be marginal when compared to the large amount of CO2 emissions from them for the rest of their lifetimes.
We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.
Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.